KALAMAZOO, Mich. (AP) — The No. 1-rated linebacker on all the college recruiting lists said Tuesday he plans to play at Michigan State.
T.J. Duckett’s long-awaited decision was announced at a news conference at Loy Norrix High School in Kalamazoo, the Kalamazoo Gazette reported.
“In the fall of 1999, I will be attending Michigan State University and I’m proud to be part of it,” said Duckett, while putting on a Michigan State cap. “My heart told me to go to Michigan State. I made the decision about a week and a half ago.”
He will sign a binding national letter of intent to play at Michigan State on Wednesday, Feb. 3.
Duckett, a 6-foot-3, 255-pounder, has often said the opportunity to carry the football as a running back could influence his final decision.
“The school that gave me the opportunity to run the ball would have the better chance,” Duckett said. “I will have the chance to run the ball at Michigan State.”
Duckett was recruited by every major university in the country. He had shoe boxes filled with letters. The phone rang incessantly, day and night.
Finally, he narrowed his final choice between the University of Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Florida State and UCLA.
In the end, the school his older brother, Tico, attended won out. Tico Duckett starred as a Spartan running back for three years and earned all-Big Ten honors.
While Michigan State coach Nick Saban is undoubtedly excited about his newest recruit, NCAA rules prohibit him from commenting until national signing day on Feb. 3. Michigan State officials said Tuesday Saban will release a full list of recruits that day. The Spartans now have commitments from 24 players.
Duckett was a two-year first-team all-stater as a linebacker and topped, or was near the top of, every recruiting service in the country.
His senior season, Duckett had over 60 solo tackles, 33 assisted tackles, eight quarterback sacks and four fumble recoveries.
“The numbers aren’t great,” said Drake, “but every team we played ran away from him. I’d line him up at defensive end so other teams wouldn’t know where he was coming from. He just destroys everything that comes at him.”