Michigan State’s senior running back has announced that he’ll forego the opportunity to come back to East Lansing for a 5th season and, instead, pursue his dream of playing in the NFL. What type of legacy does LJ leave?
How many people know that LJ Scott ranks 10th on Michigan State’s career rushing list with 2,771 yards?
When considering just how many sensational and accomplished ball carriers Michigan State has had over the decades, Scott’s position among all time running backs is pretty amazing.
LJ Scott never gained 1,000 yards in a season and spent his senior year injured most of the time before finishing with a mere 180 yards on just 55 carries.
In the second game of this season, Michigan State was leading Arizona State 3-0 and was driving to take what would have been a 10-0 lead.
The Spartans had 1st and 10 at the ASU 16-yard line and were threatening to take full control of the game and, perhaps, the early part of the season.
Brian Lewerke took the snap, dropped back perfectly to set up a little screen pass to LJ Scott in the flat.
Scott hauled in the toss and appeared to gather a head of steam – and as he crossed the 10-yard line, it looked like he’d power his way into the endzone.
But he didn’t.
He sort of slowed up just a tad and was tripped up by a diving Sun Devil before scoring.
Even LJ’s own body language right after the play said what I was certainly thinking – he grabs his helmet as if to say, “Dammit – why didn’t I just speed and plow my way over those last few yards and score the damn touchdown??”
Take a look, starting at the 50-second mark here –
Now, with that out of the way, let’s remind ourselves of what will forever be LJ Scott’s everlasting legacy.
No Spartan will ever need to be reminded of the stakes, the context, the intensity, the pressure, and the moment.
This was LJ Scott at his absolute best, in the most important moment he ever faced as a Spartan and this is how he showed his mettle and cemented his legacy:
LJ Scott has announced that he’ll enter the NFL Draft, bypassing the opportunity to come back for another season at Michigan State.
Of course, we all wish LJ nothing but the best and that he’s able to reach his goals and achieve his dream of playing in the NFL.
But what happened to the guy who beasted his way with guts, strength, power, determination, pride, and purpose on that never-to-be-forgotten run against Iowa with all of the marbles on the line?
If LJ Scott had applied that same type of 100% focus and strength and power on the run after catching that screen pass from Lewerke at Arizona State, he would have flattened any Sun Devil who got in his way and he probably wouldn’t have even needed to apply any death-blows to would-be tacklers since he would have sped into the endzone like he was shot out of a cannon.
These two plays represent a curious dichotomy that always seemed to follow LJ from the time he powered his way across the goal line at the end of that epic championship-winning drive right up until now.
There were so many powerful and athletic runs over the years.
He ran over people.
He ran through people.
He hurdled over guys.
He caught passes.
He made blocks.
And, it’s worth stating it again – he’ll end his career with the 10th most yards ever gained by a Michigan State running back.
Yeah, he forgot to pay a few parking tickets and he fumbled the ball here and there.
But I think I speak for every Spartan out there when I say that we’d all take the parking infractions and the drops all over again if it assured us all that this moment would happen all over again –
He had a curious and sometimes strange career as a Spartan.
But there wasn’t anything curious or strange about the way he powered Michigan State to its 3rd Big Ten Championship during the Mark Dantonio Era and steamrolled the Spartans into the College Football Playoff with that legendary effort against Iowa in the 2015 Big Ten Championship Game.
Best wishes to you, LJ.
Thanks for the memories and the accomplishments – especially the one none of us will ever forget…