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Michigan State Football News: Running backs coach William Peagler takes job with Florida, defensive lineman Tyson Watson enters transfer portal

Two more departures for the Michigan State football program.

NCAA Football: Michigan State at Northwestern Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports

Mel Tucker is losing a valuable assistant coach from the Michigan State Spartans’ football staff, as the the Florida football program announced MSU running backs coach William Peagler is taking a job with the Gators as tight ends coach.

According to Florida’s news release, Peagler will coach in Michigan State’s Peach Bowl matchup with the Pittsburgh Panthers before heading to Gainesville to join newly-hired Florida head coach Billy Napier’s staff.

Peagler and Napier have worked together in the past at Clemson and Louisiana. Peagler was a student assistant at Clemson from 2006-2009 when Napier was a tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator, and later offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, during the same span with the Tigers. When Napier was named head coach at Louisiana in 2018, he hired Peagler as the Ragin’ Cajuns’ director of player personnel and quality control coordinator, before Peagler took the job on Tucker’s staff at Colorado as director of quality control in 2019.

In addition to Michigan State and Colorado, Peagler also worked with Tucker at Georgia in 2017.

Peagler has spent the past two seasons working under Tucker as Michigan State’s running backs coach. He coached Kenneth Walker III in 2021, who finished the regular season ranked second in the FBS in total rushing yards (1,636), second in rushing yards per game (136.3) and eighth in rushing touchdowns (18). Walker’s 6.22 yards per carry also ranked 14th in the country.

Under Peagler’s tutelage, Walker earned copious amounts of accolades and national recognition, including being named as a consensus All-American, winning the Walter Camp Player of the Year Award, winning the Doak Walker Award, being named Associated Press Big Ten Co-Offensive Player of the Year and AP Big Ten Newcomer of the Year, earning Big Ten Running Back of the Year (Ameche-Dayne Award) honors, and being named first-team All-Big Ten from both the coaches and media. Walker has elected to opt out of the Peach Bowl and prepare for the NFL Draft.

With Peagler departing from the program, Tucker now has two assistant coaching spots to fill on Michigan State’s staff, as cornerbacks coach Travares Tillman is taking a job at his alma mater, Georgia Tech.

Peagler is not the only announced exit for the Michigan State football program on Friday. True freshman defensive lineman Tyson Watson took to Twitter to declare that he has entered the transfer portal.

Watson did not appear in a game in 2021. The 6-foot-6, 270 pounder, from Warren Mott High School signed with Michigan State’s 2021 recruiting class. He was considered a three-star defensive end prospect, ranking as the No. 92 defensive lineman in the 2021 class, and No. 18 player in the state of Michigan, according to 247Sports.

He was listed as a defensive tackle on Michigan State’s roster. Watson will have all four years of eligibility remaining at his next school.

Watson now makes four players from MSU’s 2021 signing class to enter the portal this year, joining defensive end Alex Okelo, safety Michael Gravely and tight end Kameron Allen. He is the 16th Spartan overall to enter the portal, as linebacker Cole DeMarzo, wide receiver Ian Stewart, defensive end Jack Camper, tight end Trenton Gillison, offensive lineman James Ohonba, wide receiver Ricky White, defensive back/wide receiver CJ Hayes, safety/nickelback Michael Dowell, kicker Evan Johnson, cornerback Emmanuel Flowers, cornerback Kalon Gervin and linebacker Chase Kline join Watson, Okelo, Gravely and Allen.

To keep up with all movement regarding Michigan State players in the transfer portal, check here.