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Hometown journey: Jace Clarizio's path from East Lansing High School to MSU

May 28, 2024
The scoreboard on the football field at East Lansing High School on May 24, 2024.
The scoreboard on the football field at East Lansing High School on May 24, 2024.

Jace Clarizio has been a Spartan fan since he was young. 

The 2025 three-star running back from East Lansing High School grew up with Michigan State University in his backyard. On May 14, Clarizio fulfilled his goal of playing for the team he has supported since childhood and committed to the Spartans' revamped football program under head coach Jonathan Smith.

“It’s a great opportunity,” Clarizio said. “It’s a blessing, just to be able to play for the team you’ve been rooting for your whole life.”

Clarizio began playing football in kindergarten after his dad passed the love for the sport down to him. By his sophomore year, East Lansing High School football Head Coach Bill Feraco knew Clarizio was going to be a special player.

“He scored, I think it was, five touchdowns that closed out games,” Feraco said. “They were runs of 25 yards or more so we knew there was something special.”

Clarizio said he and Charlie Baker, a fellow ELHS product and 2024 MSU commit, have been playing football together since they were nine years old. 

“(Baker) was a fan just like me, growing up in East Lansing— we were both State fans,” Clarizio said. “I feel like it’s both of our dreams, so it’s just great.”

In addition to football, Clarizio and Baker played baseball and basketball together when they were much younger, Feraco said.

“It was a very close relationship because... we depended on (both of them) a great deal last year and even the previous year," Feraco said. 

Clarizio and Baker were leaders on the team for the 2023 season, with Clarizio scoring 18 touchdowns in only seven games. During the second play of the team's preseason scrimmage in 2023, Clarizio injured his knee.

“That took a little while for him to overcome,” Feraco said. “But, he came back to us ready to go the fifth game of the year, and as soon as he hit the field, he had an outstanding game against Grand Blanc.”

Clarizio said the adversity made him stronger both as a person and player. 

“You just gotta push through it, because there’s always going to be the light at the end of the tunnel," Clarizio said. 

However, the injury wasn't the only adversity Clarizio faced throughout his career, Feraco said. 

“It was our quarterfinal game (and) we got the ball very close to our home goal line, maybe the six or seven-yard line, and he fumbled the ball,” Feraco said. “I just remember him coming off the field after the fumble and how upset he was at himself for allowing that to occur, but bouncing right back from that and performing very well for the rest of the game.”

Clarizio has one year left at ELHS before enrolling at MSU. With the current state of major college athletics and its new one-time transfer rule, Jonathan Smith asked Clarizio if he wanted to be at MSU and if he was willing to commit to a place for an extended period of time.

“When Coach Smith and the new staff came in, they wanted to get to know Jace a little bit more before pulling the trigger and offering him,” Feraco said. “I think all of that led to a solid foundation for Jace to make his decision to commit to Michigan State."

With Clarizio being on the shy side, Feraco said he's looking for the rising senior to step up for his teammates verbally this year rather than leading by example.

“He's special and it’s been fun watching him mature,” Feraco said. “He doesn’t call a lot of attention to himself. I think he's aware of who and what he is as opposed to the school climate.” 

Clarizio said he is determined to succeed at MSU.

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“I wanna win a national championship,” he said. “I’m gonna work as hard as I can to have the best career I possibly can.”

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