When L.J. Scott announced that he would be returning to #5 Michigan State for his senior year after the Spartans’ 42-17 win over Washington State in the Holiday Bowl, it came as a surprise to many fans, but as he prepares for the upcoming season he’s looking to leave his mark on the program, while taking on more of a leadership role this fall.
Spartan Nation was on hand for the Big Ten media days this week and spoke with Scott about the upcoming season.
Scott said that with the hard work the seniors and captains put in a last season’s 10-3 finish to help bounce back from a 3-9 record in 2016, he feels the Spartans are in a good place but are far from content as they enter the 2018 campaign.
“Guys like Khari (Willis), guys like Brian Lewerke, guys like Joe Bachie, people like that helped to put this team together and help bring this team back together,” he said. “We’ve been working so hard and our coaches are so proud of us and we’re so happy with where we are right now – we’re not comfortable, but we’re not mad either. We’ve been working so hard and we’ve got 19 starters back – we lost a good one, but we’ve got his brother as well and he’s going to follow in his footsteps. It’ll be a good year.”
Scott has put together productive seasons in all three of his years in East Lansing as he’s rushed for over 2,500 yards in his career. Scott was one of just a handful of freshman who made big contributions on Michigan State’s 2015 team and is best known to Spartan fans for his late touchdown run against Iowa in the Big Ten Championship Game to send Michigan State to the College Football Playoff.
Considering the fact that Scott has been a key contributor for three years now, it’s no secret that he will be one of the leaders for an offense that returns 10 of 11 starters as the Spartans look to build on last year’s success.
As he looks to assume a larger leadership role, Scott surely has leaned on a teammate, friend, and fellow senior Khari Willis, who has been one of Michigan State’s unquestioned leaders on the defensive side of the ball.
Scott said that what makes Willis such an effective and well-respected leader starts with his faith, integrity, and character and added that the two have become close friends through faith in their three years as well.
“I’ve always looked at Khari as my main leader and that’s why he’s a captain,” he said. “Khari’s a great dude – I was telling another guy when Khari and I first got here, we clicked so quickly. He’s all about God and growing up I used to go to church, but I kind of got away from it. I ran into Khari and he put that back into my head and it’s like, ‘Man bro, I’m so happy I met you.’ He’s a great inspiration, he’s a great leader – anything you need, he’ll be right there.”
With his collegiate career winding down, Scott understands the importance of his senior season and trying to set himself up for success in the game of football at the next level and used an example of a close friend and former Spartan to explain what motivates him heading into the fall.
“It was like life after college, what are you going to do after college?” Scott wondered. “You’re going into the real world, some guys train for the combine or want to be in the NFL, it’s not going so good for them right now. I talk about him because he’s my best friend and he wouldn’t mind it, but for instance, Gerald Holmes, he’s going through it right now, so he’s just being patient on waiting for that phone call, life is really rough for him right now, but that’s pretty much what clicked on for me. I’d rather take another route.”
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