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  • Tyler Harden

Four-star defensive lineman, Jalen Thompson, discusses staying home at Michigan State

Photo Courtesy of: On3

Of the 30 offers Jalen Thompson had from around the country throughout his recruitment, the school located an hour and 15 minutes away was the school to land him. Thompson committed to Michigan State on August 22, signed on December 21, and shortly after early enrolled to the school.

Thompson is a 6-foot-4, 245-pound defensive lineman from Cass Technical High School in Detroit, Michigan. According to 247sports, he is ranked as the No. 28 defensive lineman in the country, the No. 3 recruit in Michigan, and the No. 228 overall recruit in the country.

Regardless of distance, Thompson loved the relationships he had made at Michigan State prior to committing. He felt comfort in taking his career to that school and that program. In addition, with all the coaching changes before the 2022 college football season, Michigan State head coach, Mel Tucker, notified Thompson that he isn’t going anywhere.

“One thing was relationships, I have to make sure people will take care of me,” Thompson said. “When I first got down here, I had been here like 20-plus times before. Coach Tucker was like ‘man, you gotta know the other commits before you come here,’ and I’m like ‘the big thing for me is where I’m staying, they’ll take care of me. And he said, ‘man, just know I’ll be here for a minute.’ That was one of the bigger things, the reason why I came here.”

There was also a sense of loyalty with Thompson toward Michigan State. The Spartans extended an offer to Thompson in February of 2021, and since then he’s been on campus numerous times and has always shown interest.

“They were one of the first schools to offer me a scholarship,” Thompson said. “So that went into why I chose them as well. Me having the option to play early and being a hometown kid, I just felt like I have an all-around good fit.”

Michigan State struggled this past season, finishing with a 5-7 overall record and 3-6 in the Big 10. Just a season earlier, the Spartans held an 11-2 overall record and 7-2 in the Big 10. Thompson and his Michigan State class, who ranked 23rd in the 247sports recruiting class rankings, are on the same page with the rest of the program in trying to bring the program back to the top.

“Everybody’s on the same page, and we have to put this work in to bring Michigan State back to a great season this year,” Thompson said. “Everybody’s pretty cool.”

While Thompson found what he needed in Michigan State, the relationships he made at other schools of interest will likely still be around him. Michigan, Penn State and Ohio State are all in the Big 10 East with Michigan State, so Thompson will have the opportunity to play against schools he once looked at playing for.

“Michigan was one of the top schools,” Thompson said. “Penn State was a big school on my list as well because of how many guys they put in the league at my position. And then Ohio State, that was my dream school growing up. But with the college recruiting process, I couldn’t rely on what my dream school was.”

Thompson found what he was looking for in Michigan State, and since he signed his National Letter of Intent with Michigan State, he’s started his journey in East Lansing when he early enrolled in January. For now, he will get prepared with the team for their spring season in the coming months.

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