For the second time this season the Michigan State Spartans have lost a running back to the transfer portal. According to reports, La’Darius Jefferson has left the team.
Both the Detroit Free Press and The Athletic reported Tuesday that the sophomore running back was set to transfer. He becomes the third player this season to enter the transfer portal, joining fellow running back Connor Heyward and linebacker Brandon Bouyer-Randle.
Michigan State sophomore running back La'Darius Jefferson has entered his name in the NCAA transfer portal, according to a source. He becomes the third Spartans player to go into the portal since Sept. 25. He was third on the team in rushing last season.— Rainer Sabin (@RainerSabin) October 8, 2019
Jefferson entered the 2019 season with an opportunity to become the lead back for the Spartans. But by the second week of the season, it was clear that not only would Jefferson not receive the bulk of the carries, he was being pushed out of the rotation.
The sophomore finishes his season with just 25 yards on 19 attempts, but twice finding the end zone.
Following his freshman season, there was promise for Jefferson. A big, bruising running back, Jefferson ran for 255 yards in 2018.
With Jefferson and Heyward gone, that leaves redshirt freshman Elijah Collins as the feature back. Collins has earned that spot this season, rushing for 476 yards already, averaging 5.3 a carry with three touchdowns. The biggest thing holding him back so far appears to be his lack of touches.
Behind Collins there are only two running backs on scholarship are freshman Anthony Williams Jr. and Brandon Wright. The Spartans have turned to walk-on Alante Thomas in late game blowouts and before the start of the season freshman Weston Bridges was moved from running back to receiver.
Collins appeared to grab at his hamstring late in last Saturday’s game against Ohio State. If there is an injury to deal with, it is unclear what the Spartans will do for a running game. A strong rushing attack could be even more important against Wisconsin, who has proven to be one of the best teams in the nation both in defense and in their own running game. Keeping the clock running with the MSU defense on the sideline may be the best chance the Spartans have to pull the upset.
Jefferson was a three-star recruit out of Muskegon. A quarterback in high school, he came to Michigan State as an athlete.