Jalen Watts-Jackson attended his first MSU basketball game on Saturday, against Michigan, and sat in the Izzone. (Daniel Mears / Detroit News)
The Detroit News will profile one of its Blue Chip recruits every day leading up to the Feb. 5 National Signing Day. Today: No. 10 player Jalen Watts-Jackson.
Orchard Lake – Jalen Watts-Jackson was known as a hard-hitter and a sure tackler at Orchard Lake St. Mary’s. At 6-foot and 183 pounds, Watts-Jackson possessed good size for a defensive back and his coaches at St. Mary’s could count on him to close quickly on run plays.
It wasn’t always that way. When Watts-Jackson started as a sophomore, at receiver as well as defensive back, it was Watts-Jackson -- not his opponents -- who took many of the hard hits.
“I was definitely the nail, not the hammer back then,” he said. “I wasn’t a big kid then. I was like 5-9 and maybe 165 pounds. But I think that helped me, playing with the older guys. It gave me an advantage. It gave me goals to shoot for.”
Watts-Jackson learned well. He began lifting weights after that sophomore year and gradually took on a leadership role.
His hard work was rewarded as late last spring when Michigan State offered him a scholarship; he accepted on June 19.
Watts-Jackson also starts on the basketball team at St. Mary’s and last Saturday he went to his first college basketball game, at the Breslin Center, for the MSU-Michigan game.
“I got to sit in the Izzone,” he said. “Can you imagine that? My first college game and I sat in the Izzone. It was so loud.”