Instead of playing his last year of football, Michigan State hero Jalen Watts-Jackson is joining the Air Force

Michigan State defensive back Jalen Watts-Jackson is most known for returning a fumbled punt for a touchdown as time expired against Michigan in 2015. (Melanie Maxwell/The Ann Arbor News via AP)

Instead of transferring to another football program, Jalen Watts-Jackson is following a different path.

Watts-Jackson, who scored the winning touchdown in Michigan State’s improbable win over rival Michigan in 2015, told that he will join the Air Force. Back in March, Watts-Jackson announced his plans to play his last season of college football at another school following graduation.

Instead, he will follow in the footsteps of other members of his family by joining the military.

“I am going into the Air Force,” Watts-Jackson said. “I was raised that it is a good idea to serve your country. I have family members that have served this country including my dad, so I am excited to serve this nation.”

Because of the play he made in 2015 against UM, Watts-Jackson will go down as a name Michigan State fans never forget. The defensive back infamously corralled the famous fumbled punt and returned it for a touchdown as time expired, giving the Spartans a 27-23 victory over the Wolverines in front of a stunned crowd in Ann Arbor.

Watts-Jackson, then a redshirt freshman, actually broke his hip on that play. He was able to return to the field for nine games in 2016. He also appeared in six games in 2017, but mainly played special teams.

In an effort to see more playing time, he announced a transfer in March. Watts-Jackson graduated from MSU in May, so he would have been immediately eligible if he decided to play out his final year at another FBS school. Instead, he plans to work in cyber system operations with the Air Force.

“I have a lot of family that has served a lot of time serving this great country,” Watts-Jackson told “It will be great following their teachings and what they have taught me. What an honor. I am really looking forward to it.”

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