Michigan State receiver Jayden Reed has night to remember as he mulls future

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News

Atlanta — If Jayden Reed played his final game for Michigan State on Thursday night, he surely went out in fine fashion.

The junior wide receiver was named the offensive most valuable player as he caught six passes for 80 yards and two touchdowns, including the winner in the fourth quarter as No. 10 Michigan State rallied to beat No. 12 Pittsburgh in the Peach Bowl, 31-21, at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

Michigan State’s Jayden Reed pulls down a long touchdown reception in front of Pitt’s A.J. Woods on State’s first drive in the first quarter.

“I still don’t have the answer at this moment,” Reed said when asked after the game if he had finalized his future plans.

Reed had indicated this week he would talk about his next step after the game, but as of late Thursday night, he yet to make that decision.

When he does ultimately make that choice, he said it he’ll trust himself.

“What I always do when I make decisions, I make a pros and cons list,” Reed explained. “Everything that it is going to come down to, and I really go with my gut for the most part. I look at the facts, what's really out there for me, you know what I'm saying? And I just go with the flow. To be honest, I haven't missed yet. So trusting God and everything like that, I know I'll make the right decision.”

More: Watch: Highlights from Michigan State-Pitt in the Peach BowlReed finished the season with 59 receptions for 1,026 yards and 10 touchdowns while also returning a pair of punts earlier this season for touchdowns. He became the first Michigan State wide receiver to go over the 1,000-yard mark since Aaron Burbridge in 2015.

And his connection with former middle school teammate Payton Thorne was on display Thursday night as it was all season, never more than the final offensive touchdown that gave the Spartans the lead for good.

“I love 50/50 balls because I believe they're 100% balls coming towards my way,” Reed said. “Payton Thorne threw a great ball. He gave me opportunity to put it somewhere where I could make a play. And that's how it happened.”

Thorne gushed about Reed after the game while adding he hopes their days as teammates have not come to an end.

“He was excellent tonight all night,” Thorne said. “He was keeping me up the whole game, and he was open all night. And he did a great job. Obviously, two great contested catches in the end zone and he had a pretty amazing game. Obviously, he won offensive MVP, as he should. And it was special. It was cool. It was a cool moment, but I'm hoping I can throw him a few more next year.”

It was a heck of a night for Reed, and in the end, it was pretty good for Thorne, too.

In fact, with his three touchdown passes, Thorne ended the season with 27, the most in a single season in Michigan State history. It moved him past Kirk Cousins, who threw 25 touchdown passes in 2011.

“He’s got good players around him, a good offensive line, receivers, backs,” Michigan State coach Mel Tucker said. “And the defense stood up for us there and got stops. We kept getting them the ball back. We were solid on special teams. We were able to play field-position football and we were able to get it done. But Payton showed a level of maturity and just resiliency.”

More: Henning: Tucker shows his worth in MSU's Peach Bowl win, turnaround season

Welcome back

The time off for Michigan State helped the Spartans get healthy, at least in a couple of spots.

After missing the final four games of the regular season, wide receiver Jalen Nailor was back in the lineup and had six catches for 108 yards. The Spartans also got back left tackle Jarrett Horst, who was out for the final four games of the regular season, and defensive tackle Simeon Barrow, who was out three games to close the season.

Horst did not play, but Barrow started and had six tackles, including a half sack and a half tackle for loss.

The Spartans remained shorthanded in other spots as linebacker Quavaris Crouch, tight end Tyler Hunt and cornerback Charles Brantley were still out after missing time to close the season, while senior offensive lineman Kevin Jarvis was also out. He started all 12 games this season for Michigan State.

Extra points

Michigan State now has won seven of its last nine bowl games, while Tucker won his first bowl game as a head coach.

… It was Michigan State’s third appearance in a New Year’s Six bowl game and it improved to 2-1, adding to the win in the 2015 Cotton Bowl over Baylor.

Cal Haladay’s 78-yard interception returned for a touchdown was the longest in Peach Bowl history, surpassing Toney Hurd Jr. (55 yards) from Texas A&M in 2013.

… Michigan State improved to 7-0-1 all-time against Pitt.

… Sophomore Spencer Brown started at right tackle, his first career start.


Twitter: @mattcharboneau