Mel Tucker’s first big-time recruit comes in the form of a running back who actually wore the Michigan State uniform last season.

Thursday evening, running back Connor Heyward announced via Twitter that he has exited the transfer portal and has decided to continue his football career with the Spartans. His decision comes after Mark Dantonio stepped down as head coach and Tucker was named the new leader of the program.

“After talking with Mr. Beekman and Coach Tucker, I have decided to take my name out of the transfer portal and return to Michigan State University,” Heyward wrote. It has been a long process, but I know this is home in my heart. I’m looking forward to what the future holds, and I can’t wait to get back to work with my brothers. Go Green!”

Heyward played in just four games for the Spartans in 2018, taking 24 carries for 79 yards. He also caught seven passes for 52 yards and a touchdown. He entered his name into the transfer portal during the season. Because he only appeared in four contests, he was able to maintain his redshirt status with the program.

In 2018, Heyward was the leading rusher at Michigan State, totaling 529 yards and five touchdowns on 118 carries, while also grabbing 32 receptions for 249 yards.

Heyward’s return would seriously aid Michigan State’s backfield, providing Elijah Collins with a running mate in the 2020 campaign. Last fall, Collins was the team’s top ball-carrier, racking up 988 yards and five touchdowns on 222 touches.

Heyward’s decision to return to Michigan State is a huge victory for Tucker and the coaching staff in East Lansing.