Once upon a time, the Michigan State defensive backfield was known as the “No Fly Zone”. That moniker has lost some of its luster over the past few years as the Spartans’ search for the next Darqueze Dennard or Trae Waynes has come up empty. One more player looks like he will be removing his name from contention as DB Kaleel Gaines is set to transfer.
#Transfer Kaleel Gaines @leely_football 4merly @MSU_Football set to transfer to Arizona Western JuCo @AWCMatadors @tcminnick11 pic.twitter.com/Mze7tbsJy6— JuCo Football Forer (@JuCoFootballACE) June 2, 2017
Gaines departure adds to the flux in the MSU defensive backfield. They were already set to lose three starters and currently Vayante Copeland (he of several major injuries), Josh Butler (he of minimal playing time), Tyson Smith (who suffered a stroke during the 2016 season), TJ Harrell (a converted linebacker) and Josiah Scott (a true freshman) are the only players listed at CB on the MSU roster. Of course, there’s also Justin Layne, a host of safeties who could drop down and three other true freshmen on their way but the cornerback position looks, at the very least, untested heading into 2017.
Gaines came to East Lansing as a three star athlete by way of Frostproof, FL and was considered to be a possible two-way player thanks to his combination of speed and explosiveness. However, he has been unable to crack the rotation at corner for whatever reason and is now heading to Junior College to pursue greener pastures.
Other MSU DB transfers have found success in a post-MSU world. Former Spartan Ezra Robinson, a member of the 2013 Rose Bowl team, transferred to Tennessee State after his redshirt freshman year and ended up being first-team All-Ohio Valley as a senior in 2016. He went undrafted but signed a free agent deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars in April.
Hopefully Gaines can find similar success. Best of luck, Kaleel!