Michigan State football WR Jayden Reed returning for senior year in 2022

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  • Jayden Reed
    American football player
  • Payton Thorne
    American football player

Jayden Reed will stick with Payton Thorne for one more year.

Michigan State football’s top wide receiver announced Tuesday he plans to return for his senior season, a day after teammate Jalen Nailor declared for the NFL draft.

“Since I was a child, I’ve dreamed of playing in the NFL and I am one step closer to my goal,” Reed wrote in a statement. “After long talks with God, my family, coaches and friends, I’ve come to a final decision to return to Michigan State and use my last year of eligibility. We have unfinished business to take care of.”

Michigan State wide receiver Jayden Reed (1) makes a catch against Pittsburgh defensive back A.J. Woods (25) during the first half of the Peach Bowl at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Ga. on Thursday, Dec. 30, 2021.
Michigan State wide receiver Jayden Reed (1) makes a catch against Pittsburgh defensive back A.J. Woods (25) during the first half of the Peach Bowl at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Ga. on Thursday, Dec. 30, 2021.

The 6-foot, 185-pound Reed led the Spartans with 1,026 yards, 59 catches and 10 touchdowns. He became the program’s first 1,000-yard receiver since Aaron Burbridge in 2015, just the 10th pass catcher to eclipse that total all-time in school history and finished with the ninth-most receiving yards. Reed, who transferred to MSU from Western Michigan in 2019 and sat out that season, also returned two punts for touchdowns and paired with Nailor on kickoff returns.

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Reed had six catches for 80 yards and two touchdowns and was named offensive MVP in No. 10 MSU’s 31-21 win over No. 12 Pitt in the Peach Bowl on Thursday in Atlanta. The Spartans finished coach Mel Tucker’s second season with an 11-2 record and won the school’s second New Year’s Six bowl game since the College Football Playoff format began in 2014.

“It's a blessing. Who would have thought I would be in this position today?” Reed said after the game. “I give all glory to God, my family that supported everything. And I trusted all my decisions I made coming up to this point.”

Reed was a middle school and high school teammate with Thorne in Illinois, first playing together at Metea Valley and then transferring to Naperville Central. He was named a Freshman All-American by the Football Writers Association of America in 2018 at WMU before joining the Spartans.

Michigan State wide receiver Jayden Reed, left, celebrates a touchdown with quarterback Payton Thorne during the second half of the 31-21 win over Pittsburgh in the Peach Bowl at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on Thursday, Dec. 30, 2021.
Michigan State wide receiver Jayden Reed, left, celebrates a touchdown with quarterback Payton Thorne during the second half of the 31-21 win over Pittsburgh in the Peach Bowl at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on Thursday, Dec. 30, 2021.

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They were supposed to be in Kalamazoo together before coach Mark Dantonio lured Thorne to MSU as part of his 2019 recruiting class. Reed followed a few months later as a transfer. Neither played a single snap for Dantonio but they have blossomed under Tucker, particularly this season, emerging as a dangerous duo in critical situations.

“We had a chip on our shoulder from winter conditioning. Everybody worked their tails off,” Reed said of the 2021 Spartans. “I knew from that point that we were going to have a really good team because everybody was bought into the coaches that coach Tuck was bringing in.

“I felt the family more on the team, you know what I'm saying? I looked at them more as family. I was closer to many more teammates than I've ever been on any team. So from that standpoint, that's when I knew that this team was going to be really good.”

Reed’s return gives Thorne two of his three starting receivers back next season, along with sophomore Tre Mosley.

The Spartans also are expected to return top reserves Montorie Foster, Terry Lockett Jr., Keon Coleman and Christian Fitzpatrick, among others, and have a strong class of incoming receivers headlined by four-star prospect Antonio Gates Jr. from Dearborn Fordson.

Contact Chris Solari: csolari@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @chrissolari. Read more on the Michigan State Spartans and sign up for our Spartans newsletter.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Michigan State football WR Jayden Reed returning for 2022