East Lansing — Jalen Watts-Jackson will forever be at the center of one of the most memorable plays in the history of the Michigan State-Michigan rivalry.
When the redshirt freshman scooped up a fumbled Michigan punt and raced 38 yards for the winning touchdown with no time on the clock giving the Spartans a 27-23 victory, the Michigan State safety became an instant hero, his teammates piling on him in celebration.
The only problem was Watts-Jackson dislocated his hip and suffered a fracture on the play. Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio said on Sunday evening that Watts-Jackson underwent surgery earlier in the day and faces a long rehabilitation.
"I talked to them last night, talked with his father today and obviously the doctors and everything," Dantonio said. "He had surgery down in Ann Arbor at U-M (Hospital), and obviously he's out for the season. But a dislocated hip and then a fracture as well.
"They repaired the fracture and re-set the hip, so he will be out for the year. But he'll remain inactive, sort of have to, he's not got a cast on it or anything like that, but three months of nothing on it. No weight bearing on it. And then he'll be able to start rehabbing at that point."
Dantonio said he intended to talk to Watts-Jackson again on Sunday night, but he added when he spoke to him earlier in the day, Watts-Jackson told him he was hurt on the play, not the celebration.
Some players, including safety Grayson Miller, said after the game they were fearful the celebration might have led to the injury.
"He told me it happened on the tackle, as he was being tackled, is when it happened," Dantonio said. "And on the film you can see him in pain, so that's when it happened. It's unfortunate everybody piled on him, but you know, I think people started figuring out pretty quickly what was going on."