MSU's Cody White, Khari Willis, Matt Sokol and Josiah Scott on Saturday's 14-10 win over Rutgers. Matt Charboneau, The Detroit News
East Lansing — The original plan was for Josiah Scott to play four games and leave the option of using this season to redshirt.
At least, that was the plan back when the sophomore cornerback first returned to action after missing the first eight games of the season as he recovered from surgery on his meniscus after injuring his knee early in preseason camp.
But as Michigan State prepared to host Rutgers in the regular-season finale on Saturday, the quest to get a seventh victory and help solidify bowl position led the Spartans to starting Scott, his fourth game of the season. If Scott were to play in the bowl game, that would end any hope of redshirting.
“The decision to play him was simply about we needed to get this win and he's a great football player and we weren't going to hold any bullets back to finish this regular season with seven wins,” defensive coordinator Mike Tressel said. “Obviously, since he's been back, he came back at the right time. He was 100-percent confident and he was physically 100-percent and he made plays on the football.”
Scott's presence proved to be critical as he had two interceptions — the second on the final drive of the game — as Michigan State held on for a 14-10 victory over Rutgers.
“It is just watching film throughout the week and just knowing their tendencies and what they wanted to do against us in certain situations going through the game,” Scott said of the second interception. “Whenever they gave a bunch set, they usually run a corner route and as I was dropping back into my zone, I saw the guy run a corner, so I just broke one right when the quarterback was looking at him.”
Scott said he communicated with his family and coaches about whether to play on Saturday and will continue to do so over the next few weeks as Michigan State prepares to play in a bowl game.
“Yeah, over the next month,” Scott said. “We have a good amount of time until we play our next game, so we’ll continue to talk about what’s best for me going forward.”
While Michigan State would love to have Scott around an extra year, there’s no guarantee he would stick around that long even if eligible. A freshman All-American last season, Scott will have his sights set on the NFL, something that could come as early as after next season.
So, there will be no rush to make a call on Scott before the bowl game.
“We'll see as the bowl game comes but there's a lot that can go on,” Dantonio said. “If making an impact in the games I think you allow him to play. But if that's a family decision for him, we'll just sort of listen to his family on that. Two more years is a long time, three more years is a long time for him. Would he go out after two more years? I don't know. So you got to look at all those things. He's definitely going to graduate because he came here early so he's going to graduate on time. He's got some things to think about in that regard and we'll just play it by ear, but we'll talk to his family.
“I just really felt like — or we just felt — when I talked to him this week that this was such an important game that this really went beyond, maybe even the bowl game, because we needed to win seven. We needed to have everybody going in the same direction and glad we did.”