Josh Butler wins battle to be starting cornerback
MSU football released its first official depth chart of the season on Tuesday.
While it was mainly infused with expectations, the cornerback position, however, did have a few unanticipated moves.
True freshman cornerback Josiah Scott was expected by many to start in his first full season after a spring with the Spartans as an early enrollee.
An imposing performance in the spring game in April furthered his case. But when the depth chart came out, sophomore Josh Butler beat out Scott for the starting position.
“It’s a great battle,” co-defensive coordinator Harlon Barnett said. “Josiah had an outstanding spring, and then got a little nicked up a little bit in the fall camp. Josh had an outstanding fall camp — he did a great job for us. And so that’s a good problem to have. We have some guys, and we’re happy that, obviously, that Justin Layne is with us and Tyson Smith. So I expect all those guys to play, especially with a fast-paced offense.”
Scott, who just came back from a minor injury that forced the 5-foot-10, 173-pound cornerback to miss practice time, still has time to show his worth and prove that he should be a starter based on his performance on Saturday.
“Both (Butler and Scott) are going to play,” head coach Mark Dantonio said on Tuesday. “Who starts really will define itself probably this weekend, because we still have practice this week. … But they're both good players. We expect them both to play.”
The cornerback position, like many this season, is stocked with youth. Just two upperclassmen representing the cornerbacks on the depth chart.
Sophomore Justin Layne and Butler are both starters entering the Spartans’ season opener against Bowling Green.
While Scott was out rehabbing an injury, Barnett was satisfied with the way Harrell helped fill in the void at practice.
“T.J. did good,” Barnett said. “He did a good job for us. T.J. is a bigger guy that can run, and so he did a good job as well for us. So five solid corners that we have right now that we feel good about putting into a game.”
True freshman Tre Person entered MSU’s offseason as a cornerback, but the depth chart revealed that Person had made the switch over to safety, a position he had played in high school.
“As far as Tre is concerned, Tre is a smart, young football player as well,” Barnett said. “He understands, and he’s getting it more and more. We do a lot of things, and he’s getting it down. He communicates, he loves to play the game and he goes after a get people.”
Person is listed as a third-string safety behind David Dowell and Matt Morrissey, and while the native of Atlanta, Georgia, is listed on the depth chart as a safety, Barnett said that Person hasn't completely left the cornerback position yet.
“Pretty much safety right now,” Barnett said. “He made the switch after the first week or so (of camp), but … he did a little corner for us (on Tuesday) as well, so he still knows that. He’s a smart football player, so he understands both positions, and it’s going to serve him well in the future.”