If anyone tells you that Jeremy Langford’s career at Michigan State is exactly what they expected it to be, they’re lying to you. Langford has dealt with a ton of adversity during his time in East Lansing, but he was able to overcome it in order to get where he is today.
As a senior at Westland John Glenn High School in 2009, Langford rushed 205 times for 1,932 yards and 24 touchdowns including six 200-yard rushing games and two 300-yard efforts. Langford was looked at by scouts as a speedster who had the potential to be a change of pace back or even move to wide receiver because of his 6-foot frame.
Although he put up impressive numbers as a senior and came from a football program at John Glenn that produced Keyshawn Martin just two years earlier, Langford didn’t get much praise from scouts. He was rated as a two-star recruit by Rivals.com and ESPN and a three-star by Scout.
Although Scout.com did give Langford a three-star rating, it still ranked him as just the 73rd best running back recruit in the country and described him by saying in part, “His build and running style makes it tough for him to break a ton of tackles and he ends up being more of a finesse, in-space player than a grind it out feature back type.”
Now it’s nothing new for an overlooked recruit to develop into a great player in college, but Langford’s journey was far from ordinary.
Langford came to Michigan State in 2010 along with fellow running back recruit Le’veon Bell. That year Langford redshirted and was even listed on the roster as RB/WR, meaning the coaches really didn’t know what to do with him. That same season Bell earned Big Ten All-Freshman honors from ESPN and was even added to the midseason Doak Walker Award watch list. Bell’s success led the coaching staff to try and find other ways to get Langford on the field.
During Michigan State’s spring practices in 2011 the coaches decided to try Langford at cornerback. That year he played almost exclusively on special teams and didn’t get a single carry as a running back.
Langford made another position change going into the 2012 campaign when the coaching staff put him back on offense, but as a wide receiver. The experiment didn’t last very long though as he caught just five passes for 33 yards in the first two spring scrimmages and was moved back to his original position of running back for the regular season.
With Le’veon Bell carrying the offense in 2012 Langford didn’t get many opportunities, rushing for just 23 yards on nine carries all season. Although he didn’t make much of a splash in 2012, Langford still contributed on special teams and Bell’s impending departure for the NFL meant he would have a chance to become the Spartan’s starting running back.
Going into 2013 Langford was a front-runner for the starting running back job, but the coaches showed some reservations about him by bringing then redshirt freshman Riley Bullough over from defense and naming him co-starter with Langford. Using the Bullough move as motivation, Langford quickly ran away with the starting job (no pun intended).
In the season opener against Western Michigan Langford was a lone bright spot for the Spartan offense, rushing for 94 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries. He continued to improve, and by the sixth game of the season he rushed for more than 100 yards for the first time in his career. He would surpass the 100-yard mark for seven straight weeks after that, a feat that no Spartan running back before him had ever achieved.
Langford led the B1G with 19 total touchdowns and 292 carries in 2013, and was named honorable mention All-B1G by the coaches and media.
2013 was Jeremy Langford’s message to the college football world that he deserves some attention. He isn’t the speedy kid from Wayne who might end up as a wide receiver anymore; he is an elite running back for one of the best teams in the B1G. 2013 seemed to be the climax of The Jeremy Langford Saga so it will be interesting to see how he plays next year when he is no longer under the radar.
If history has told us anything about Jeremy Langford, it’s that he can handle anything and he’ll continue to fight and improve. For that reason, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him evolve into one of the top backs in the country in 2014.
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