In the week leading up to the Top 10 matchup between Michigan State and Michigan, Spartan head coach Mel Tucker noted that legends and legacies are made in this rivalry.
True freshman cornerback Charles Brantley began writing his legacy at Michigan State with the game-sealing interception of Wolverine quarterback Cade McNamara in the final seconds of the game.
“I’m really proud of Chuck,” said Michigan State senior safety Xavier Henderson, who has taken Brantley under his wing in many ways this season.
As someone who has been in the program for four years, and saw significant playing time as a freshman himself, Henderson is the perfect Spartan to impose wisdom upon the young Brantley.
“I know he was getting a little upset about not playing as much as he did earlier in the year, and I kept telling him, ‘Pick your head up. You’ve got to work harder in practice,” Henderson said. “Sometimes, in practice, it’s hard when you’re a freshman. There’s a lot going on, and sometimes practice isn’t your main worry. But I said, ‘You’ve got to work hard in practice’, and he has been. He kept his head up and he was ready to play when his number was called. I’m so happy for him that he got to make that play.”
Brantley, a 6-foot corner from Venice High School in Florida, has played in five of the eight games for the Spartans this season. At 165 pounds, his build is small, but his teammates would tell you not to let that fool you.
“I’m sure you guys have seen – he’s not the biggest guy, about 150-160 [pounds],” said wide receiver Jayden Reed. “But you see when he comes downhill he’s trying to lay the wood. He has that edge, he has that mentality to where he’s not afraid of anybody. No matter how big you are, how fast you are, he’s very competitive.”
According to quarterback Payton Thorne, Brantley takes on a little different persona off the field.
“He’s an awesome guy,” Thorne said. “Ever since he’s been here, he’s one of those guys you love talking with. He’s got some good jokes.”
But on the field, the freshman is holding his own, and his upperclassmen teammates are taking note.
“He shows up and you just look at him and you’re like, ‘Man, this guy’s pretty light,” Thorne said. “And then we start going full go in contact and he’s smoking guys. So it’s like, ‘Man, if he’s going to hit guys like this, that’s okay with me him being that light.’ He makes plays out there. Great, awesome play for him to seal the game. He’s a baller, and he’s got that in him. It’s fun to play with him.”
Sometimes, with young players, there is a certain game or a certain moment that launches their careers. This could have been that moment for Brantley. His teammates see great things in store for the true freshman.
“I competed with him all through camp, and he showed me great things and he’s going to be a great player,” Reed said. “He’s going to be the next great player here at Michigan State.”