This week — in an intense rivalry game with a trophy, bragging rights and an undefeated record on the line — being a team captain means a little bit more for the Michigan State players as the Spartans get ready to compete against the Michigan Wolverines on Saturday in East Lansing.
So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that head coach Mel Tucker and company have elected three familiar names as captains for this weekend’s game against that school from Ann Arbor: senior safety Xavier Henderson, graduate senior kicker Matt Coghlin and redshirt junior wide receiver Jayden Reed.
While Michigan State rotates captains each week, Henderson is as close to a permanent team captain as the Spartans have, as he has now been voted a captain for each of MSU’s eight games so far this season. It is obvious his coaches and teammates view him as the team’s top leader. Henderson is the Spartans’ leading tackler with 60, and has also recorded seven tackles for loss, two sacks, one pass breakup, one forced fumble and one interception.
Coghlin — who set the record for career field goals made in Michigan State program history earlier this season and is closing in on the Big Ten record as well — has been named captain for a second time this season after serving in that role against Youngstown State. He was named Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week following the win against Indiana, as he tied a career-high by making a 51-yard field goal, and also knocked through a 49-yard field goal in the fourth quarter, along with both of his extra point attempts, to help the Spartans beat the Hoosiers. Coghlin has made 10 of his 15 field goal attempts (66.7 percent), and is a perfect 30-for-30 on extra points this season.
Reed gets the nod for the third time, as he was also named captain for the away game at Miami (FL.) and the home game versus Western Kentucky. He leads Michigan State with 562 receiving yards and is tied with Jalen Nailor for the team lead in receptions with 27. Reed also has five touchdown receptions, one less than Nailor’s six, and leads the Big Ten in yards per reception with a mark of 20.8. Additionally, Reed leads the FBS in average yards per punt return (23.3) and is one of only two players in the country to have two punt return touchdowns this season, joining Houston’s Marcus Jones. Reed also is tied with teammate Kenneth Walker III for seventh in the nation with an average of 146 all-purpose yards per game.