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Time Well Spent: A Look Back at Michigan State's Jehuu Caulcrick

Adam Biggers@@AdamBiggers81Senior Analyst IIMarch 30, 2010

EAST LANSING, MI - NOVEMBER 03: Running back Jehuu Caulcrick #30 of the Michigan State Spartans makes a touchdown during the second half against the Michigan Wolverines at Spartan Stadium November 3, 2007 in East Lansing, Michigan. Michigan defeated Michigan State 28-24. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

For former Michigan State Spartan football standout Jehuu Caulcrick, landing in the National Football League was beyond his wildest of dreams.

But after a successful college tenure, Caulcrick made it there.

He went undrafted, but did secure a spot on the New York Jets' practice squad in his rookie year. After a season with the Jets, Caulcrick then relocated to Tampa Bay, where he was a Buccaneer in his second season.

Finally, Jan. 12, 2010 rolled around; and he signed a three-year deal with the San Francisco 49ers—securing his football future for at least 36 months, but it wasn't easy.

The 26-year old native Liberian fled his war torn country as a child with his parents and migrated to New York to start a new life. He attended Clymer Central High School, and picked up the game of football as a freshman.

Had Clymer Central had a soccer team, Caulcrick's path to Michigan State would have likely changed, and he quite possibly wouldn't be in the position that he is in today.

"The reason I didn't play (soccer) in high school was because my school didn't have a team," Caulcrick said. "If it did, I would have probably stuck with soccer."

So as luck (for Spartan fans) would have it—football it was—and Caulcrick made the best of his career as a Central Pirate.

Because of his choice to play football, several colleges pursued the All New-York selection; offering him scholarships and spots on their rosters.

Caulcrick's chances of having the opportunity to play college ball were coming together.

Big East programs like Syracuse and Pitt actively recruited him, and so did Notre Dame.

In the end, the choice was clear for Caulcrick; and he chose to sign with Michigan State.

"After I committed to MSU a coach from Michigan called me," Caulcrick said. "I told him that I did (commit), and he hung up."

Caulcrick is the 10th all-time leading rusher in Spartan history with 2,395 yards. His mark of 39 career touchdowns is second only to the legendary Lorenzo White, who left East Lansing with 43 trips to the endzone to his credit.

"One of the reasons why I chose MSU was because they showed a lot of (Spartan) games in New York," Caulcrick said. "I watched guys like (Sedrick) Irvin and (T.J.) Duckett. To be alongside them in the record books is an honor."

Caulcrick's time at Michigan State made scouts take notice, and he soon would have a chance to play on Sundays.

"When I started playing football, I played it for fun," Caulcrick said. "I wasn't thinking that it was a ticket to the NFL."

"I started getting letters from colleges, (for me) it was a way to get an education (playing football). Time went on and agents started calling. (Going to the NFL) was an attainable goal. I didn't put too much pressure on myself," Caulcrick said.

"Football has been a tool for me to get what I want in life. It's a dream to play on the next level."

The accolades Caulcrick was honored with at Michigan State came unexpectedly. He was named to the 2004 All Big-Ten Freshman team, and received an All Big-Ten honorable mention in 2007.

"I wanted my team to be successful. I didn't think about the individual awards," Caulcrick said.

"It was definitely encouraging. I went to a small high school and some people thought that I was out of my element going to the Big Ten. I was proving people wrong and enjoying myself. It was a great experience."

Throughout his Big Ten career, Caulcrick was known as the "Thunder" in the Spartans' "Thunder and Lightning" backfield which he was featured alongside Javon Ringer. The 6-foot 255-pound running back quickly earned the reputation as a punishing, Jerome Bettis-type of ball carrier.

For those unfamiliar with the "Thunder and Lightning" moniker, Caulcrick explained:

"I guess it's a combination of the one-two-punch. Javon is kind of underestimated. He could have been both," Caulcrick said.

"He and I have a great relationship — we still talk to this day. He's a great guy, I couldn't have been happier to have shared a backfield (with him). We used to play "rock, scissors, paper" to see who would start the game. All that mattered was if we won the game."

"Thunder and Lightning" were responsible for 73 touchdowns in their careers at MSU, the most by any running back tandem at the school.

Reflecting on his days in the green and white of Michigan State, then-Ohio State Buckeye linebacker A.J. Hawk sparked a memory.

"The hardest hit I ever got was by A.J. Hawk. I wanted to run into him," Caulcrick said.

"In my head I was thinking 'Let me see what this guy is about—what's the hype?' It wasn't hype. He is probably the toughest guy I have ever went up against."

When asked about how he would handle one of today's premier linebacking menaces, Michigan State's Greg Jones, Caulcrick laid out what his plan of attack would be.

"You have to know that he's a smart player. He's going to study everything that you do to get a jump on you," Caulcrick said. "You have to get a jump on him before he can gain ground on you."

"(I would have to) be ready for a fight every play," Caulcrick said. "That's the type of player he is. (He is a) No quit, high motor kind of guy."

Caulcrick is proud of his days as Spartan, and said that the program is headed in the right direction and gaining respect.

"There was a time that Michigan State was a doormat for different teams and the teams that would schedule us on homecoming," Caulcrick said.

"Coach Dantonio has brought in a new attitude and it's going to the players. People are picking us to contend for the Big Ten title now. What MSU needed to do, and what they did was find a guy that wanted to be at MSU," Caulcrick said.

"They found that in Coach D. He's not a guy that used MSU to catapult him into something else. He wants to be there."

Mark Dantonio's recent bowl resume and back-to-back wins over Michigan are great recruiting tools, and signs that the Spartans are on their way to becoming a Big Ten team to be feared.

"Being consistently in bowl games year in and year out is huge for recruiting," Caulcrick said. "People are recognizing that MSU is a winning program."

There is a new, unofficial slogan at Michigan State. It is "We are not the same, I am a Spartan." Caulcrick explained what that meant to him personally.

"To be a Spartan is a great feeling. Once you leave college that pride is with you so much more," Caulcrick said.

"Where ever you go you try to see who among you went to the same school you did. There is a ton of Spartans all over the country. (If you) Stick your head into a bar and yell "go green," you'll get a "go white."

A special "thank you" goes out to Jehuu Caulcrick who was kind enough to make time to talk about his career with me.

You can read this interview, as well as other Spartan football and basketball related articles on Barking Carnival's "Sparty On" blog.

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