Michigan State legend Jalen Watts-Jackson gives up football to join the Air Force

On Oct. 17, 2015, Jalen Watts-Jackson became a Michigan State legend. The freshman defensive back scooped up a mishandled punt and sprinted 38 yards to glory to give the Spartans a 27-23 walk-off win over Michigan, and keep Michigan State in the College Football Playoff race. 

Watts-Jackson suffered a broken hip in the ensuing celebration, and while his legend will never die, his football career would never be the same. He announced in March his intention to become a graduate transfer, and he will join the Air Force, according to SpartanNation.com.

No, not to play the Air Force Academy football team. The actual Air Force.

"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 county including my dad. So I am excited to serve this nation."

The 5-foot-11, 184-pound native of Detroit plans on becoming an officer with a focus on cyber systems operation and security.

Watts-Jackson played in nine games and notched just three tackles in 2016 after recovering from his hip injury. Primarily a special teams player, he did return a punt 13 yards in a 54-40 loss to Northwestern.

While his football career didn't end the way he hoped, he has etched his name into college football history as the centerpiece of one of the most remarkable and improbable plays in the sport's history. 

College Football Writer

Barrett Sallee has been a member of the sports media in various aspects since 2001. He is currently a college football writer for CBS Sports, while also hosting on ESPNU on SiriusXM Radio channel 84, the... Full Bio

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