EAST LANSING, Mich. — Josiah Scott calls it his “Spartan Dawg” mentality.
The Michigan State freshman cornerback wants to be the best. And once he gets there, he wants to make sure nobody catches him.
After his first week, Scott was already deemed the best — at least according to Pro Football Focus, which rated him the best true freshman of college football’s opening week. So, what was the next step? Not getting complacent. He had to go out against Western Michigan and prove he could do it week in and week out.
On the first drive of the game Saturday, the Broncos drove down the field looking to open the scoring. Scott, although not listed as No. 1 on the depth chart, started for the second time. When Western Michigan got into enemy territory, Scott made his move.
“They called a coverage where I’m gonna drop under the receiver if they run a certain route,” he said. “They ran a little glance route, kind of like a little post up the field, and right when I see the receiver get his head back, I’m like, ‘Oh, I know the ball’s coming and I can probably jump it.’ So, I got my head around, and the ball’s kind of thrown low, so I kind of basically undercut it.”
Replay confirmed his diving grab was a success. In his collegiate debut, Scott had become the first Michigan State freshman to start a season opener since 2010. Now in his second game, he recorded his first career interception.
Was he surprised? Maybe a little. He sure didn’t show it.
“It definitely came a little early,” Scott said. “I didn’t think I would get it until midseason.”
Midseason? Of his freshman year? If Scott hasn’t been overwhelmed by the hype, it’s because no one has set higher expectations for him than he has. He may try to ignore the outside noise, but when he goes back after his games and “likes” tweets acknowledging his play, it becomes evident he appreciates it.
He deserves it. Very few freshmen have come to Michigan State and made such an immediate impact. If anything, the chatter has seemed to lead to elevated confidence, which is exactly what the Spartans want from their young players.
“They’ve never played on this type of level with this type of, these type of fans in the stands and things like that,” co-defensive coordinator Harlon Barnett said. “So, it’s very key, so now they’ll go on to play better and better because they have confidence. As long as they don’t get cocky with it and just stay and remain confident, then we’ll be OK.”
That doesn’t seem to be a problem with Scott. Like a veteran, he deflected praise to his defensive line, which recorded 4 sacks.
“The D-line was getting a great push,” Scott said, “and all credit to them, because anything we do in the secondary is a credit to them.”