Great Mills senior linebacker Clifford Dukes verbally committed Tuesday to accept a full scholarship to play football at Michigan State University next season. Dukes initially notified Michigan State of his intentions Nov. 29, but when Head Coach Nick Saban resigned the next day to become the head coach at Louisiana State University, he decided to rethink his decision.
It didn't take long. Longtime assistant Bobby Williams was named the Spartans' new coach Sunday, which meant that all of the assistant coaches Dukes met on his November visit should still work at Michigan State next year. That was enough to persuade Dukes to stay, he said.
Williams came to Great Mills on Monday night to meet with Dukes and Great Mills Coach Bill Greer; the 6-foot-3, 227-pound senior notified the coach Tuesday morning of his final decision.
"I really liked the coaches when I went up for my visit, and it's pretty much the same guys still there now," said Dukes, who said he had narrowed his choices to Michigan State and Maryland. "Something just told me to stick with Michigan State."
Dukes led Great Mills this season with 105 tackles, one interception and one fumble recovery. He also played fullback for the Hornets, gaining 621 yards and seven touchdowns on 114 carries.
"I absolutely think Michigan State is the right place for him," Greer said. "He was just very comfortable with the environment there, and he really liked the coaching staff and the players when he went on his visit."
Michigan State (9-2) finished tied for second in the Big Ten this season, notching its first nine-win regular season since 1966. The Spartans will play Florida, the Southeastern Conference runner-up, in the Citrus Bowl on Jan. 1.