Aside from star running back Kenneth Walker III, Jayden Reed had been the Spartans’ top offensive weapon. Having him back in 2022 is huge for the program along with his good friend quarterback Payton Throne.
The Western Michigan transfer, Reed, accumulated a team-leading 1,026 receiving yards on 59 receptions scoring ten receiving touchdowns in 2021.
Not only serving as the program’s top receiving threat, but Reed also proved to be an elite kick returner as well and played his way into being a finalist for the Paul Hornung Award, which goes to the nation’s most versatile player.
This news couldn’t come at a better time for the Spartans after seeing not only Walker III declare for the NFL Draft but so did the teams’ speedy pass-catcher Jalen Nailor. The Spartans will also be without their heartbeat on offense Connor Heyward.
I am convinced without Heyward, Michigan State football doesn’t win the Peach Bowl last week, where they were able to edge out Pittsburgh 31-21.
The Thorne to Reed connection will live on for one more season; Michigan State football will be grateful for that.
It’s been often documented that Thorne and Reed played in middle school and high school ball together. Both had committed to Western Michigan, but Michigan State football was able to flip Thorne back in 2019.
Reed, after starting his college career with the Broncos before entering the transfer portal only to reunite with his quarterback in East Lansing.
If I’m being honest, I am quite shocked that Reed hasn’t decided to throw his hat in the ring. It’s a decision that will pay dividends to each player and the program. His receiving skills, paired with his elite return skills, should have translated to a middle-round selection.
I admire Reed’s desire to continue his education and attend his fifth year of college. I’m sure he hopes to strengthen his draft stock for 2023 with an even better senior season with the Spartans. I also expect Reed to compete for the Biletnikoff Award in 2022, awarded to the nation’s top pass-catcher.
The Spartans will look to replace Walker’s production in 2022 with a rushing attack by committee. Jalen Berger recently transferred to Michigan State from Wisconsin and is the odds on favorite to begin the season as the Spartan bell cow. Michigan State football indeed holds out hope they can once again capture lightning in a bottle with Berger as they did with Walker, but if not, the combination of Jordon Simmons and Elijah Collins can provide an adequate rushing attack.
With Nailor headed to the NFL, Michigan State will lean on Tre Mosley and Montorie Foster to fill the void behind Reed. Michigan State is also set to welcome an exciting prospect in 2022; receiver Antonio Gates Jr. Keep your eyes on him; I suspect he’s got some excellent NFL bloodlines.