EAST LANSING, MI — Michigan State running back T.J. Duckett, the Spartans’ fifth all-time leading rusher with 3,379 career yards, has been selected by the Atlanta Falcons in the first round of Saturday’s (April 20) National Football League Draft. Duckett, the No. 18 pick overall, becomes the first Spartan running back to be drafted in the first round since 1988 when Lorenzo White went at No. 22 to the Houston Oilers.
“I’m shocked at being drafted by Atlanta,” Duckett said. “I didn’t work out down there and the Falcons really hadn’t expressed a lot of interest, but I’m excited about my selection. I don’t know a lot about the team but I know all about Michael Vick, Jamal Anderson and Warrick Dunn. I’m going to be all ears in training camp and hopefully, I can have an impact right away.
“I never looked back after making the decision to turn pro. The door to playing football in the NFL has been opened and now it’s time for me to make the most of this opportunity. I’m looking forward to the challenge of proving myself at the next level. The bottom line is that I’ll have to produce and make plays.
“I don’t think being a first-round pick has really sunk in yet but perhaps it will when I arrive in Atlanta for the press conference.”
Duckett, a second-team All-Big Ten selection by the media, rushed for 1,420 yards in 2001 – the fifth-best single-season total in Spartan history. The 6-foot-1, 249-pound running back finished third in the Big Ten in rushing, averaging 118.3 yards per game. As a junior, he accounted for 77 percent of Michigan State’s rushing offense (1,420 of 1,854 yards) and scored 12 of its 19 rushing touchdowns.