Mark Dantonio has a long history of coaching up great defensive backs over his 30 year career. Last season, he continued that tradition with the Michigan State Spartans as Darqueze Dennard distinguished himself as the best corner in college football, winning the 2013 Thorpe Award, before moving on to the NFL. In 2014, it will be Trae Waynes‘ turn to take the mantle and continue Dantonio’s streak of great defensive backs.
As a sophomore in 2013, Waynes displayed the kind of playmaking ability that we have come to expect from a cover-corner in a Dantonio defense. He finished third on the team with three interceptions last season to along with five pass breakups and 50 tackles. Now a junior, Waynes will take over the boundary corner position that Dennard filled last season and will look to keep the Spartans’ “No-Fly Zone” in place.
At 6-foot-1, 185 pounds, Waynes has the size and the mindset to get physical with receivers at the line of scrimmage in press coverage to go along with the speed to turn and run with just about anyone in the country. Defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi has raved about Waynes and his consistency to play great defense on every snap. With the move to the boundary, Narduzzi expects Waynes to get a lot more opportunities to make plays in 2014 and stake his claim among the best DBs that Dantonio has coached.
It’s no secret that Michigan State’s success in 2013 was thanks in large part to the stifling effort of their defense. With so many great talents moving on this offseason, like Dennard, the challenge for Dantonio and the Spartans will be to find new stars to step up and take their place. Luckily for them, Waynes is groomed and ready to take his spot among the elite corners of the Dantonio regime.