Last week, Mark Dantonio had nothing but high praises for his young players. In the stretch of just a few days, he compared freshman defensive back Josiah Scott to Michigan State football legend Darqueze Dennard and quarterback Brian Lewerke to the two greatest MSU quarterbacks of all time – Connor Cook and Kirk Cousins.
Praising young players is a good thing for Dantonio and his staff; this season, the team has 76 underclassmen as opposed to their 36 upperclassmen. The leaders of this team, for the most part, will be young players just getting their shine in the spotlight. They’re going to have to be good.
But it’s time to temper your expectations.
This is coach talk. Rumor has it that both Josiah Scott and Lewerke are performing extremely well in camp, which is a good thing. But it’s unfair to put them on a pedestal and try to compare them to some of the greatest players in Michigan State’s history. It’s just something coaches say to boost morale and exude confidence to those watching from the outside. Seriously – if Brian Lewerke is truly a mix of the good qualities in Cousins and Cook, he should be a Heisman candidate. If Josiah Scott is as good as Darqueze Dennard, he is a Jim Thorpe Award candidate. That’s all way too lofty.
Maybe in the future, these guys will mature and possibly come close to the elite performance levels of Dennard, Cook and Cousins, but we can’t expect that yet. Scott is a freshman and Lewerke is a sophomore, and they’re going to need a lot more meaningful playing time before they’re ready to compete at that level.
This isn’t to say they both can’t have great seasons—the praise they’ve drawn from the coaching staff and media is undeniable, and they both bring skill to positions that aren’t deep with talent, so they’ll have their opportunity this year.
Hopefully this is year is what kick starts a legendary career for two young Spartans, but it’s a little too early for those comparisons.