Midseason attrition has stuck Michigan State football again as junior running back Connor Heyward has reportedly entered his name into the transfer portal according to The Detroit Free Press.
Heyward, a 6-foot, 233-pounder out of Duluth, Georgia entered the 2019 season as the No. 1 back in MSU's offense. But, since the emergence of redshirt freshman Elijah Collins, his role with the Spartans has decreased.
Heyward ran for 43 yards on 15 carries against Tulsa in MSU's week-one win. But, he maxed out with three carries in each of the Spartans next three games as Collins flourished as the bell cow back.
Heyward did not dress in No. 25 Michigan State's 40-31 win over Indiana on Saturday, which moved the Spartans to 2-0 in conference play. Following the win, Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio said that Heyward's absence was due to "personal reasons."
As a freshman Heyward appeared in 12 games for the Spartans and led the team with 20 kick returns for 436 yards which ranked third in the Big Ten, while also playing 22 snaps on offense during the year.
Before the 2018 season, Heyward was named one of the five finalists for the Paul Hornung Award, given to the nation's most versatile player. He ran for 529 yards on five touchdowns on 118 carries while adding 249 yards on 32 receptions.
Wideout Weston Bridges also didn't dress for MSU against the Hoosiers, and Dantonio said that it was for a minor team rules violation, which couldn't allow Bridges to be on the sideline.
Heyward became the second player on Michigan State's roster to put his name in the transfer portal, following suit of linebacker Brandon Bouyer-Randle earlier this week.
"It's gonna happen. In this day in age these things are going to happen," Dantonio said regarding Bouyer-Randle following MSU's game against IU. "I'm just trying to be understanding with people and allow them to make decision that they need to make. I'm not going to hold anybody hostage or anything like that. People want to play a little bit more, think they have an opportunity at another place, then sometimes they have to make those decisions.
"It's unfortunate. I didn't want him to do that, but this is life in 2019."
The Spartans travel this Saturday to take on No. 4 Ohio State (7:30 p.m., ABC). The last time MSU played in Columbus in 2017, it lost 48-3, the largest margin of defeat at the hands of the Buckeyes in the history of the matchup.