EAST LANSING, Mich. — Josiah Scott had his “Welcome to College Football” moment on his first day of workouts.
The Michigan State cornerback “got thrown into the fire” right away, as he put it, held to the same standards as any other player on the team. It didn’t matter that if not for the ambitious decision to enroll early in January, he would still be a senior at Fairfield (Ohio) High School.
There he was, running alongside the rest of the squad. And running. And running some more. He soon realized that his endpoint didn’t depend on his discretion, but rather what strength and conditioning coach Ken Mannie had predetermined he would do.
“In high school, sometimes they see their players dying during the workouts and they kind of stop,” Scott said. “But college, you keep going, no matter what. They have a set plan that you’re gonna have to do.”
Scott realizes he’s not running just to run. The Michigan State staff has big hopes and dreams for him, maybe as big as the ones he has for himself.
He came to East Lansing because of coach Mark Dantonio’s and co-defensive coordinator Harlon Barnett’s track record of developing defensive backs. Darqueze Dennard and Trae Waynes both came to MSU rated as 2-star recruits by Rivals and 247Sports, respectively. Now they’re in the NFL.
“This is the dream school for a DB,” Scott said. “Coach Barnett is a heck of a coach. I wouldn’t want any other coach to coach me. He’s been real with me throughout the whole process and me coming in here, too.”
Scott, who stands 5-foot-9, looks up to the cornerbacks who came before him, but the standards they set might not be out of reach. On National Signing Day, Dantonio had high praise for Scott that suggested he sees the young DB potentially reaching that level.
“Josiah reminds you of Dennard, the way he goes about his business, his change of direction, his ability to move vertical,” Dantonio said. “I’ve only seen him out there one day, but I’ve heard from other people talking about him, as they’ve watched him in workouts.
“(He) comes to work every day, has a sense of toughness, has outstanding ball-handling — from film and watching him in person.”
Expectations have been set early on, at a time when Scott has been trying to transition in other parts of his new life. After taking classes in pursuit of a potential kinesiology major, meeting with tutors, attending social events and doing workouts, he has barely managed to get the recommended seven hours of sleep.
In the midst of all this, he’s taken what he learned from that first day with Mannie. Keep going, no matter what.
“I have to perform to the best of my ability,” Scott said. “It really has been a big (step) up from high school workouts, but nothing I can’t handle.”