Michigan State's Mark Dantonio 'disappointed' Justin Layne won't play in Redbox Bowl
East Lansing — Michigan State junior cornerback Justin Layne announced last week he’s forgoing his final season of eligibility and entering the NFL Draft.
On Wednesday, Spartans coach Mark Dantonio confirmed Layne will not play in the Redbox Bowl on Dec. 31 against Oregon in Santa Clara, Calif., and is no longer with the team.
“Justin Layne has left the football team, so obviously he won’t be playing in the bowl game,” Dantonio said during his press conference announcing the 2019 recruiting class. “Everybody else is still with the team, so I imagine they’re playing.”
Layne earned second-team All-Big Ten honors this season, intercepting one pass and breaking up 15, which tied for first in the Big Ten. He ranks among the top-10 draft eligible cornerbacks, according to ESPN analyst Mel Kiper Jr.
Dantonio did not hide the fact he wasn’t on board with Layne’s decision not to play in the bowl game.
“Yeah, I’m disappointed,” Dantonio said. “Everybody these days has a different philosophy on how these things are working out. My philosophy is you finish, you finish the season. That includes bowl games or playoff games, and other people feel differently. Doesn’t mean I’m right and they’re wrong; it’s just a difference of philosophy.”
Layne, a former four-star recruit from Cleveland came to Michigan State as a wide receiver and saw his first action on the offensive side of the ball. But after one game on offense, he made the switch and played eight games at cornerback as a true freshman, starting five games.
He started nine of 13 games as a sophomore in 2017 while earning honorable mention All-Big Ten honors.
Layne isn’t the only player who could make the choice to enter the NFL Draft early. Junior defensive tackle Raequan Williams has been rated as high as a second-round pick by some analysts, while junior defensive end Kenny Willekes has been moving up draft boards as well.
Dantonio said any other announcements likely would come after the bowl game, but did not cite any specific players.
“I think they’re with us through the bowl game and those are decisions that are made by them in an announcement format,” Dantonio said. “But I don’t want to speak for them. They’ll make those decisions and make that announcement based on what’s best for them at that point in time.”
Josiah Scott to play
While Layne will not be around for the matchup with Oregon, his fellow starting cornerback will. Dantonio confirmed sophomore cornerback Josiah Scott will play against the Ducks, making that the fifth game of the season for Scott and ending any thought of taking a redshirt season.
“Josiah will play in the bowl game,” Dantonio said. “That’s his wish and we talked about it at length and he sees it as a great opportunity to perform at a high level in a national game against a great quarterback and wide receivers. So, he’s gonna play.”
Scott injured his knee early in preseason camp and missed the first eight games, returning to action for the final four games against Maryland, Ohio State, Nebraska and Rutgers. By playing in a fifth game, he loses the chance to redshirt, though an extra year might not be in the cards for the former three-star prospect who was a freshman All-American in 2017, starting 12 of 13 games.
One last game for LJ
Dantonio also confirmed senior running back LJ Scott will play in the bowl game.
Scott played in just four games this season, battling injuries for most of the year. Late in the season, Dantonio said Scott planned to come back for a fifth season, but Scott later changed his mind and said he’d head for the NFL.
“LJ will play as well,” Dantonio said. “He’s been practicing and will play in the game. He’s healthy.”