Michigan State Football: Connor Heyward is only going to help Elijah Collins

Elijah Collins, Michigan State football Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports
Elijah Collins, Michigan State football Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports /

Elijah Collins is back for his sophomore year with Michigan State football and he’s going to get some help from a returning Connor Heyward.

Connor Heyward was looking a breakout 2019 season in the face following a 500-plus yard showing in 2018 and he got off to a slow start versus Tulsa. He rushed for just 43 yards on 15 carries but he did add three catches for 28 yards and a touchdown.

Western Michigan then came to town and Heyward found himself in a relatively unfamiliar situation: on the bench. He had spent most of 2018 starting at running back or at least on the receiving end of the bulk of the carries, but for the first time in about a year, he was playing second-fiddle, and this time it was to a freshman.

Elijah Collins was given the nod against the Broncos and finished with a career-high 192 yards on 17 carries. He didn’t reach the end zone, but this was enough to prove he was RB1.

Collins continued to get the nod in the backfield behind a shaky offensive line and still finished with 988 yards and five touchdowns on 4.4 yards per touch.

This led to a tough decision from Heyward as he saw his carries dip. He decided to enter the NCAA Transfer Portal after redshirting before a fifth outing.

Heyward’s career as a Spartan seemed to be over and Collins no longer had a veteran breathing down his back if he didn’t have a good game or he coughed up a fumble. If he made the wrong cut or read the blocks wrong, he was given another chance. That’s no longer the case as Heyward decided to cut his time in the transfer portal short and return to Michigan State.

No, Heyward isn’t going to take the starting job from Collins any time soon, but he’s going to push his backfield mate. Heyward’s going to make sure Collins doesn’t get content or plateau.

Anthony Williams Jr. was going to be this guy, but I can see him and Heyward splitting carries. It’s nice to have options and Collins even admitted that having Connor back is only going to make him a better running back.

Just because Heyward struggled behind a horrid offensive line for a couple of years doesn’t mean he’s not going to be detrimental to the growth of Michigan State’s offense, most notably Collins.

Next. MSU football: Game-by-game predictions for 2020. dark