Langford, Lippett complete journey together

Michigan State seniors set to play their final home game Saturday after a roundabout journey that featured stops at other positions, frustrations, but a bond as brothers from years as roommates.

The first time Jeremy Langford and Tony Lippett suited up as teammates, it came with helmets decorated with high school logos from around the state.

It also came in Spartan Stadium, as the pair represented the East team in the Michigan High School Football All-Star Game in 2010. They hailed from Detroit – Langford from Westland John Glenn and Lippett from Crockett – but that week in June was the first chance to really get to know each other.

By the end of the game, a decision to be roommates upon arriving in East Lansing was reached. It is a living situation they still have after five years as they prepare to suit up for a game at Spartan Stadium together for the final time Saturday.

”We created a great relationship with each other,” Lippett said. “That’s basically my brother, not even my friend. It’s just a great journey with us. Knowing where we started from and the struggles we had and all the obstacles we had to overcome and just to see how it’s turned out. Even though we still have a little bit to go, it’s still turned out for the good.”

Langford now is the No. 1 running back for the Spartans, a role he assumed early last season, and Lippett has taken a huge leap as a senior to become the Big Ten’s leading receiver. But the path it took to get to such prominent roles is nothing they could have imagined when the set foot on campus.

”It’s crazy now we look back on it,” Langford said.

The aspirations were similar and the visions alike for the two in the fall of 2010. Langford had his eyes set on being the running back at Michigan State and Lippett was hoping to contribute early at wide receiver.

Instead, after redshirting in 2010, they both were playing cornerback during the 2011 season.

”Jeremy's an interesting guy because he sat in my office and we've had long discussions about what positions he's going to play,” coach Mark Dantonio said. “When he moved to defensive back, he really didn't want to move. I sort of forced the issue, then he bounced back.

”He's always wanted to play running back and I would always force the issue saying you're too good of an athlete to be standing on the sidelines and not getting the reps.”

The result was Langford’s first career touchdown – a 37-yard fumble return against Florida Atlantic – and Lippett getting five starts at corner, while playing wide receiver throughout the season.

”We were both playing and going through the same problems and same frustrations,” Langford said. “We were going through it together and fighting at the same time.”

The roundabout journey continued heading into the next season, as both worked at wide receiver through spring football. Langford ultimately moved to running back in the fall, but did not see much time as his season rushing totals came in just one game. Still at wide receiver, Lippett was part of a group that led the nation in drops and was highly criticized for its play. Through that, they relied on each other.

”I really thank God for giving me Tony through this journey,” Langford said. “I feel like he helped me a lot and I helped him as well.”

”When I was going through what I was going through, he said some uplifting words and vice versa,” Lippett said. “When he was going through what he was going through, I was always trying to tell him it can only get better.”

It did just that for them both, as they took on big roles in 2013. Langford claimed the starting running back spot – he said he focused on controlling what he could control. Lippett turned into a reliable receiver after he said it clicked early in the year that time was running down on his career at MSU as a junior.

Langford went on to lead the Big Ten in touchdowns and ran for 100 yards in eight straight Big Ten games. Each player had a touchdown in a 34-24 Big Ten Championship Game win against Ohio State and followed it up with a touchdown each against Stanford in Michigan State’s first Rose Bowl championship since 1988 – with Lippett providing the game-winning score.

That success has continued into this year, as Langford now has ran for more than 10 yards in 14 straight games against Big Ten teams. Lippett took his game up another notch as a senior, emerging as a No. 1 receiver that is averaging just less than 100 yards receiving per game and had eight touchdowns in the season’s first six games.

”I’m very happy for them, very proud of them,” offensive coordinator Dave Warner said. “Both of those guys went through similar situations and they’ve blossomed here in the last couple of years. Those two guys right there are two of the top guys that have taken us where we’re at, last year and this year.

”Just happy for their success and want them to finish on a positive note.”

Together, Langford and Lippett will celebrate senior day at Spartan Stadium on Saturday. They acknowledge the past five years have been a blur and will have a focus on getting a win Saturday before really letting it soak in that it is their final go-round in front of Michigan State fans at home.

But fittingly, they will go through the experience together, just as they have the rest of their ride in East Lansing.

”We went through a lot of stuff together and now we are both going through a great journey and finishing off our seasons good,” Langford said. “Now, we are talking about the future and later on being fans of Michigan State.

”It’s crazy. We really thank God for that and thank Coach D for believing in us.”


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