By Larry Jacobson, JTV Sports
A scholarship to play football at Michigan State University sure sounds like a lot of fun.
Unless you’re Lumen Christi High School senior Khari Willis, who envisions that fun being tempered with a whole lot of hard work.
“It took a lot of hard work to get to this point,” Willis said. “God has blessed me with people who have helped along the way – my family and coaches and teammates – and it’s brought me this opportunity. But I know there’s a lot of hard work ahead, too. This is another chapter in my life and I’ve very excited about it.”
Willis, one of the most decorated football and basketball players to ever suit up for the Titans, enjoyed the entire recruiting process and looked at each option as its’ own unique opportunity.
Still, in the end, Coach Mark Dantonio and the Spartans won out.
“Throughout the process I’ve been very humbled by all of the options, because they’re all opportunities,” Willis said. “For a while I thought I’d end up in the MAC (Mid-American Conference) playing basketball or maybe in the ACC (Atlantic Coast Conference.) In the end I began to realize that the direction of the Michigan State program matched what I was looking for. And it’s close to home, which is important for my family and friends, too.”
The options don’t end with his destination, either.
Willis, primarily a record setting running back for the Titan football team, has options on the playing field, as well. When asked what position he might end up playing, he laughed.
“Well, there’s no clear answer on that, either,” he said. “I’m listed as an athlete, so there are a lot of options and we’ll just wait and see how it works out. I’ve spent time as a running back on offense and as a safety on defense. They’ve also looked at me as a possible linebacker.”
But that’s just on the football field. Willis is also an all-state guard on the basketball court and one of the best on-ball defenders and point guards to ever come out of the Jackson area. Might we see him lacing up the basketball shoes for Coach Tom Izzo’s Spartans in the future?
“I’m not closing the door on that – no sir,” Willis said with a laugh. “That’s something I’m definitely thinking about down the road, but the important thing to remember is that I’m going to Michigan State on a football scholarship so everything has to revolve around that. I have to make sure I’m taking care of things on the football field and in the classroom before I think about anything else. One thing at a time…”
Those decisions will be made later. For now, Willis is ready to take care of some unfinished business heading into his senior year at Lumen Christi.
“Well, I certainly am looking forward to enjoying my senior year,” he said. “But I think we have some unfinished business – both on the football field and the basketball court. The guys (my teammates) and I have already talked about it. It would be amazing to go out in style, with a really good shot at two state championships. That’s my goal. I’ve done a lot of things during my time as a Titan, but we haven’t won a state championship. That’s something I’d like to do.”
Winning a state championship in any sport takes a lot of hard work, and hard work is something that comes naturally to Khari Willis.
A year from now he’ll be entering the next chapter of his life, one that will have him draped in the green and white of Michigan State. But first things first – and hopefully that’s an eventful senior year in the green and gold of Lumen Christi.
After all, it’s about options and opportunities, and a young man determined to make the most of them.