EAST LANSING, Mich (WLNS) – If he never plays another down, never makes another tackle or does nothing else in his football career, he will forever remain a hero.
All thanks to the final ten seconds at Michigan Stadium last October.
“I had to run, I look up at the score and see the times, see how much time we had left, at that time I knew I had to get into the end zone,” said Spartan Jalen Watts-Jackson.
A dive into the endzone for the game winning touchdown in his first Michigan-Michigan State game and he paid a price, suffering a broken hip on one of the most, if not the most, famous play in Spartan football history.
“I knew we won the game but I couldn’t even begin to realize what happened because my hip was hurting so bad.”
Even a year later Jalen Watts-Jackson is still being reminded of that legendary play.
“I’m hanging out with my teammates and we going to the mall and I have little kids asking me for autographs,” says Watts-Jackson. “It’s funny, I’m like a celebrity. Seeing how people reacted to it, how big of an impact it was on people’s lives. They say it was the best plays they’ve seen in their life, it definitely gives you a lot to live up to, I would say.”
How ironic that Watts-Jackson returned a blocked punt last week to a loud cheer from the stands. Perhaps all remembered what happened just a year ago last week.
So did his magical play change the rivalry?
“They got a bitter taste in their mouth but, like I said, we don’t shy away from any battles we’ll be ready to play on the 29th,” insists the Spartan.
A few days after his famous play, after a hospital stay and what seemed like a million text messages, Jalen made his first public appearance in a wheelchair at a press conference to discuss his date with fate and his sudden walk into the annals of MSU history.
“Cool, you know, to see my teammates all around me. It was hard for them everybody was telling me to get up and celebrate and stuff like that but the pain was a bit much,” said Jalen.
Like a lot of Spartan fans he has seen that play against the Wolverines dozens, if not hundreds, of times.
So does it ever get old?
It’s a moment he’ll never forget, a game he’ll constantly be reminded of and Jalen Watts-Jackson’s moment in the spotlight will shine forever.