Friday, April 21, marked exactly one week until former Michigan State football receiver Jayden Reed celebrates his 23rd birthday. Additionally, it is likely one week until his life is changed forever when he hears his name called on the second day of the 2023 NFL Draft.
For Michigan State fans and Reed alike, we can all hope he falls to our favorite team (ahem, Brad Holmes of the Lions), or else that team will have a swarm of Spartans joining them.
To celebrate a week early, I decided to rank Reed’s top-seven plays as a Spartan for our enjoyment. Additionally, did you know that he was high school teammates with Payton Thorne?
Making this list was hard, as I had quite a few moments I wanted to make the cut that were slightly less impactful than others.
My honorable mentions are:
Reed’s punt return touchdown vs. Western Kentucky (2021): One of my favorite parts about watching Jayden Reed is how he comes through in the clutch. In any big situation or game, Reed always stands out. While this was not necessarily a “big game” compared to our games against Michigan, Pitt, or Penn State in 2021, it was still homecoming for the Spartans. The green and white alumni had barely taken a seat before Reed made them rise from it, running the first punt of the game back for six points. This set the tone for the start of the game, as the Spartans scored 42 in the first half. I broke it down here, in my series last summer of the 50 best plays of Michigan State football in 2021.
Reed’s 17-yard TD catch vs. Northwestern (2020): The only 2020 play to receive consideration for this list occurred against Northwestern. In the second signature win of Mel Tucker’s tenure (and first against a team that was actually good, sorry, 2020 Wolverines), Reed hauled in a 17-yard touchdown pass to excite the thousands of Spartans watching from their televisions. It gave the Spartans a two-possession lead that was eventually squandered, but the Spartans did come back and win.
TD run vs. Miami (2021): This was another play where Reed came through in the clutch. In a late scoring flurry for the Spartans, Reed ran in his only career rushing touchdown on an end-around. Considering the final margin of victory, this was not as meaningful as the plays on my official list. I also highlighted this play in my series last summer.
TD catches vs. Youngstown State (2021): Reed had a day against Youngstown State in 2021. Against the helplessly overmatched FCS Penguins, Reed put up an astounding 181 receiving yards on only four catches, including two touchdowns of 75 or more yards. On the first play of the game, Reed housed a flea flicker. A few drives later, Reed burned coverage for an 85-yard touchdown. As I discussed last summer, these plays had the “wow” factor, but not much of an impact when our Spartans won by 28 points. I also broke these down more last summer, in moments No. 39 and No. 46.
My five honorable mentions aside, let’s get to the seven best plays Reed made as a Spartan.