Spartan Football Bowl Release
Dec. 26, 2001
DATE: Dec. 31, 2001
THE COACHES -
Fresno State's Pat Hill (UC Riverside 1973) is 37-24 (.607) in his fifth season with the Bulldogs. Hill returned to Fresno State following five years in the National Football League where he served as the tight ends and offensive line coach for the Baltimore Ravens/Cleveland Browns from 1992-95. He previously spent two seasons as offensive coordinator and offensive line coach at Arizona (1990-91). In his first stint at Fresno State under Jim Sweeney from 1984-89, Hill coached the offensive line and served as recruiting coordinator. His coaching credits also include stops at the CFL's Calgary Stampeders (1983), UNLV (1981-82), Utah (1977-80) and Los Angeles Valley College (1974-76).
STAT LEADERS -
MSU/FRESNO STATE SERIES NOTES -
MSU/FRESNO STATE HARDWOOD HISTORY -
SPARTANS vs. WAC TEAMS -
MSU/FRESNO STATE COACHING CONNECTIONS -
MSU/FRESNO STATE CONNECTIONS, PART II -
SPARTANS FROM THE GOLDEN STATE -
Ratliff played junior college and high school football less than 90 miles from San Jose in Modesto, Calif. He threw for 1,289 yards and four touchdowns as a freshman at Modesto Junior College, helping the Pirates to a 7-4 record including a 46-20 victory over American River in the Graffiti Bowl. In 1998, Ratliff quarterbacked Central Catholic High School to an 11-1 record while accounting for 1,730 total yards and 19 TDs.
Roper played his prep football less than 10 miles from Spartan Stadium on the San Jose State campus. A two-year starter for Coach Kelly King at Milpitas High School, he recorded 21 career sacks.
SPARTANS INVADE THE BAY AREA -
Michigan State's football team will attend the basketball game Dec. 29 at The Arena in Oakland. The Spartan basketball team will remain in the Bay Area through Dec. 31 so it can attend the 2001 Silicon Valley Football Classic in Spartan Stadium.
ADDITIONAL BAY AREA CONNECTIONS -
WILLIAMS AWARDED RAISE, CONTRACT EXTENSION -
The raise brings Williams' annual base salary to $214,800 in 2002. His total compensation package now exceeds $500,000. The two-year extension, through the 2006 season, contains a roll-over provision to the contract always has five years remaining. The original five-year contract was set to expire at the conclusion of the 2004 season.
"Under Bobby Williams' leadership, the football program is making steady progress," Underwood said. "We're pleased with his performance, especially in light of the adversity this team faced during the 2001 season. Despite all of the injuries, the team hung in there and qualified for a bowl game. This program has taken positive steps over the last two years and we're confident it will take greater strides in the future."
QUOTING BOBBY WILLIAMS -
"This team had its share of tough breaks along the way, especially the rash of season-ending injuries, but the players hung together and made no excuses. These guys showed a lot of competitive will. With all of the injuries, a lot of young guys gained valuable playing experience.
"Despite losing three of our last four games, I really felt like the team improved down the stretch. The team released a lot of frustration against Missouri (Dec. 1). We played a complete ballgame in the regular-season finale. We executed well in all three phases of the game - offense, defense and special teams. The defense came close to posting a shutout. The team put it all together against Missouri.
"Our No. 1 goal heading into the Missouri game was to get a win. We wanted to finish the regular season with a winning record. We emphasized winning the game. The bowl bid was a bonus. It was important to send the seniors off on a positive note because they really took ownership in the team. With a win against Missouri, there was no guarantee that an at-large bowl berth would be available to us.
"There's no question that we experienced some growing pains this season. Our inexperience showed at times because we didn't play the full 60 minutes. In our three late-season losses, the team collapsed in the third quarter. For whatever reason, the team didn't play with the same emotion at the start of the second half but it battled back in the fourth quarter. We made some adjustments in the Missouri game and they paid off. We had the same attitude at the start of the third quarter. The defense got a stop on Missouri's first series in the third quarter and our offense scored right off the bat.
"I'm excited about this football program and the direction it's headed in. We're going to continue to build this program by recruiting top talent."
Evaluating the 2001 Season: "I'd have to grade this season a C+ or B-. This team earns high marks in many different areas: effort, A+, commitment, A+, dealing with adversity, A+. The 6-5 record brings the average down because that's the bottom line. A program is ultimately judged on wins and losses.
"The losses were especially frustrating because we determined the outcome of every game. We were 16 seconds away from a victory at Northwestern in the Big Ten opener but we didn't finish. The players left too many plays on the field at Minnesota. We lacked attention to detail against Indiana and it cost us the game. Six turnovers led to a 10-point loss at Purdue. And we blew a 17-point lead against Penn State. We only have ourselves to blame for our record because we didn't take care of business.
"Getting that sixth win in the regular-season finale against Missouri has helped erase some of the bad feelings. It certainly boosted the team's morale and the bowl game gives this team new life. I'm not going to look back and wonder what if, I'm going to look forward to the challenge ahead."
Accepting Silicon Valley Football Classic Invitation: "We're excited about having the opportunity to play a 12th football game. The bowl game will certainly give the program a boost from a recruiting standpoint. It also will give the team momentum as it heads into the off-season program. Our younger players will benefit from the additional practices.
"The bowl practices play a large role in the recruiting process because you can invite the prospects to attend practices. It's a big plus for the prospects to come to practice and see the excitement and enthusiasm. It's a huge advantage for a program to be able to sell itself during bowl preparation."
Fresno State Scouting Report: "Fresno State is a very talented football team. I saw Fresno State on a film exchange with Wisconsin early in the year and I was most impressed.
"Fresno State has already shown that it can play with the best teams from the major conferences. Fresno State has an impressive non-conference resume with wins over Colorado, Oregon State and Wisconsin. After opening the season with six straight wins, Fresno State hit a mid-season snag but finished strong, winning its last five games. We're looking forward to playing a Top 20 team in the bowl game.
"David Carr is perhaps the best quarterback in college football. Carr's biggest asset is his decision making. He has thrown only seven interceptions in 477 pass attempts. Those are remarkable statistics. Carr has excellent arm strength and throws the ball on time. He also spreads the ball around.
"Everybody talks about the Carr but trust me, he's surrounded by playmakers. Wide receivers Rodney Wright and Bernard Berrian have combined for 167 receptions, 2,600 receiving yards and 23 touchdowns. Fresno State's offense also features a 1,000-yard rusher, in Paris Gaines, and a capable tight end, in Alec Greco.
"The line play has been outstanding and it all starts up front with center Rodney Michael. Michael is a very physical player and quick off the ball.
"Fresno State will show a lot of different looks on offense. This team will line up with three wideouts as often as it will with multiple tight ends.
"I've been equally impressed by what I've seen from Fresno State on the defensive side of the football. This unit plays hard every down and all 11 guys run to the football.
"Fresno State's defensive line is anchored by tackle Alan Harper and end Nick Burley. Harper is one of the best players at his position in the country because he can dominate inside. Burley is another guy that you have to account for every play because he is a relentless pass rusher.
"Linebacker Maurice Rodriguez is a good all-around athlete, who plays in every personnel group. He gets to the football in a hurry and seldom misses a tackle.
"Fresno State's secondary is very athletic. Cornerback Tierre Sams might be the fastest guy on the roster. The other cornerback, Devon Banks, is a solid cover man and tackler. And the two safeties - Bryce McGill and Vernon Fox - are big hitters."
Playing In the Bay Area: "Everybody is excited about the trip to San Jose because Michigan State hasn't played a football game out there since the early '60s. We're looking forward to the trip and there will be plenty of activities of our players.
"It's also great having the Spartan basketball team out there at the same time (Dec. 29 vs. Stanford in the Pete Newell Challenge). That should really be attractive for our fans to catch the Spartans' Bay Area doubleheader, with a basketball game and a bowl game. I plan on taking the entire football team to Oakland for the Stanford basketball game."
His Development as A Head Coach: "Last year (2000) was a learning experience. Any time there's a change in leadership, the football program has to go through an adjustment period. I've settled into the position. Now, everybody has started buying into what we're doing.
"With a bowl bid in 2001, we'll raise the bar even higher next year. We have a lot of work to do in the next eight months. The off-season program is important and so is spring practice. It's an important time for both player and staff development. After the bowl game, we'll conduct a quality-control analysis of the program.
"I think I've changed a lot in the last year. In 2000, I didn't deal with injuries very well. This year, I had a better feel for the job and managed the injury situation better. Heck, the entire secondary was almost wiped out by injuries. As a staff, we made several personnel changes to cope with the situation."
SENIORS BID FAREWELL -
The Class of 2001 includes tight end Chris Baker (Saline, Mich.), cornerback Duron Bryan (Lexington Park, Md.), linebacker Matt Dawes (Battle Creek, Mich.), tailback Little John Flowers (Kalamazoo, Mich.), snapper Tony Grant (Bay City, Mich.), safety Lorenzo Guess (Wayne, Mich.), wide receiver Herb Haygood (Sarasota, Fla.), punter Craig Jarrett (Martinsville, Ind.), linebacker Matt Kropf (Traverse City, Mich.), wide receiver Derrick Lee (Flint, Mich.), tight end Ivory McCoy (Chicago, Ill.), defensive end Nick Myers (Springfield, Ohio), placekicker David Schaefer (Birmingham, Mich.), defensive tackle Josh Shaw (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.), cornerback DeMario Suggs (Toledo, Ohio), linebacker Josh Thornhill (Lansing, Mich.) and quarterback Ryan Van Dyke (Marshall, Mich.).
SPARTANS ON POSTSEASON ALL-STAR GAME ROSTERS -
INJURY REPORT -
THE LAST TIME OUT -
SPARTANS OF THE WEEK -
Special Teams - Mark Goebel (two tackles, nine production points), PK Dave Rayner (scored a season-high 13 points, perfect on two field-goal and seven extra-point attempts).
UPSET SPECIALS -
The Spartans had been 3-22 (.120) in their previous 25 games against ranked teams before their current 12-8 run.
SPARTAN OFFENSE HITS FULL STRIDE -
NCAA Stat Leaders -
INJURIES IMPACT SPARTAN STARTING LINEUP -
SECOND(ARY) TO NONE -
Michigan State's secondary took its first hit Aug. 28 when Cedric Henry, a preseason first-team All-Big Ten selection, was declared academically ineligible for the 2001 season. Jason Harmon and DeMario Suggs suffered broken ankles during non-contact drills in successive practices Oct. 3-4. Tyrell Dortch became the fourth casualty of the season when he suffered a broken leg in the second quarter of the Oct. 27 game at Wisconsin.
MANY HAPPY SPARTAN RETURNS -
Herb Haygood currently leads the Big Ten and ranks ninth in the NCAA in kickoff returns with his 27.6-yard average. Haygood has returned two kickoffs for TDs this season, including an 84-yarder vs. Northwestern and a 100-yarder vs. Iowa, and joins Derrick Mason (1995) and Derek Hughes (1979) as the only Spartan players to return two kickoffs for scores in the same season. He still could become only the third player in MSU history to average 30.0 or more yards per kickoff return in a season, joining Hughes (31.1-yard average in '79) and Bud Crane (30.0 avg. in '48).
Charles Rogers currently stands ninth in the Big Ten in punt returns with his 8.8-yard average. Rogers returned a punt 64 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter vs. Northwestern.
SMOKER RIGHT ON TARGET -
Over his last seven games, he has completed 63 percent (121-191) of his throws for 1,907 yards (272.4 per game), 17 touchdowns and six interceptions. Smoker has posted five 200-yard passing games during that seven-game stretch, including back-to-back 300-yard efforts.
Despite playing only two-and-a-half quarters vs. Missouri in the regular-season finale, Smoker threw for 317 yards (14-17) and two TDs. Smoker, who became only the eighth quarterback in Michigan State history to throw for 2,000 yards in a season, had TD tosses of 32 yards to Charles Rogers and 42 yards to Little John Flowers. His 289.6 QB rating vs. Missouri marked the third-best figure posted by an NCAA I-A quarterback in 2001.
After missing the Nov. 17 game at Purdue with a sprained left shoulder, Smoker returned to the starting lineup against Penn State and set career highs for pass attempts (36), completions (24) and passing yards (356). His three TD passes vs. Penn State also equaled his career best. Smoker's 356 passing yards marked the fourth-best single-game total in Spartan history.
The 6-foot-3, 207-pound sophomore connected on 20-of-30 passes for 288 yards and three scores vs. Indiana.
Smoker directed his fourth game-winning fourth-quarter drive of his career against sixth-ranked Michigan, helping the Spartans overcome a 24-20 deficit in the final 2:09. He managed a 15-play, 44-yard drive and his 2-yard TD toss to T.J. Duckett as time expired gave Michigan State a 26-24 victory. His 17-yard strike to Herb Haygood on third-and-10 from the Michigan 35 and his 8-yard completion to Duckett on fourth-and-3 from the Wolverine 11 kept the drive alive in the final minute. Smoker threw for 183 yards (15-35) and two scores in his first career start vs. Michigan.
Smoker completed 13-of-20 passes for a career-high 326 yards and three TDs in MSU's 42-28 win at Wisconsin. His 326 yards marked the eighth-best single-game passing total in Spartan history. And his 271.4 QB rating vs. Wisconsin marked the eighth-highest grade recorded in NCAA I-A football in 2001.
He threw for 258 yards (21-33) and two scores vs. Minnesota. Smoker hit 14-of-20 passes for 179 yards and two TDs vs. Iowa. He connected on 15-of-23 throws for 196 yards and a score in the season opener vs. Central Michigan.
Smoker, who has compiled an 9-7 record in 16 career starts, already ranks among MSU's all-time leaders in completions (ninth at 247), completion percentage (seventh at .578), passing yards (ninth at 3,568) and passing TDs (fifth at 24).
HAYGOOD NAMED WALTER CAMP & CNNSI ALL-AMERICAN -
Haygood, who led the NCAA in kickoff returns for three straight weeks from Oct. 14-Nov. 3, is one of only three players in NCAA I-A football to return two kickoffs for touchdowns in 2001. He scored on kickoff returns of 84 yards vs. Northwestern and 100 yards vs. Iowa. The 6-foot, 190-pound senior became the first player in Michigan State's 105-year football history to return kickoffs for scores in back-to-back games and his 100-yard runback against Iowa tied the Spartan record for longest return.
Haygood currently ranks second on MSU's all-time list with 1,662 career kickoff return yards.
He currently ranks ninth in the Big Ten in all-purpose yards, averaging 117.2 yards per game. With 123 all-purpose yards vs. Purdue, Haygood reached the 3,000-yard career milestone. He accounted for a career-high 240 all-purpose yards and two scores vs. Iowa.
HAY, HE'S A GOOD RECEIVER TOO -
In his last eight games, Haygood has 47 catches for 685 yards, including three 100-yard receiving games - vs. Indiana, Minnesota and Iowa - the first of his career.
With eight receptions (90 yards) vs. Purdue, he became only the 16th player in Michigan State history to reach 100 career catches.
Haygood caught eight passes for a career-high 132 yards and two TDs vs. Indiana. He scored on TD catches of 18 and 13 yards from Jeff Smoker against the Hoosiers. Haygood had eight receptions for 117 yards against Minnesota. He hauled in a career-high nine passes for 119 yards against Iowa, including a 15-yard touchdown grab from Smoker in the second quarter.
Haygood has caught at least one pass in 22 consecutive games. He ranks among MSU's all-time leaders in receptions (tied for 11th at 110) and receiving yards (13th at 1,591).
ROGERS MAKES HIS PRESENCE FELT -
Rogers ranks among the Big Ten leaders in receiving yards (second at 109.1 yards per game), receptions (fifth at 5.2 per game) and scoring (third at 7.6 points per game).
The 6-foot-4, 202-pound split end has caught at least one TD pass in each of his last eight games.
Rogers earned Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week honors after accounting for 215 all-purpose yards and three TDs in MSU's 55-7 victory over Missouri in the 2001 regular-season finale. He had seven receptions for 168 yards and two TDs vs. Missouri, including TD grabs of 32 yards from Jeff Smoker in the first quarter and 27 yards from Damon Dowdell in the fourth quarter. Rogers also scored on a 20-yard double reverse in the second quarter.
With a season-high eight catches for 191 yards vs. Penn State, Rogers became only the third receiver in Michigan State history to reach the 1,000-yard milestone in a season. Plaxico Burress recorded back-to-back 1,000-yard receiving seasons in 1998 (1,013) and '99 (1,142) while Courtney Hawkins hit the mark in '89 (1,080). He caught TD passes of 59 and 47 yards from Smoker vs. Penn State.
Rogers had seven receptions for 108 yards vs. Purdue, including a 7-yard TD grab from Dowdell in the third quarter.
He caught five passes for a season-high 206 yards (41.2 avg.) vs. Wisconsin, including TD catches of 5 and 87 yards from Smoker. His 206 receiving yards vs. Wisconsin marked the third-best single-game total in Spartan history.
Rogers had four receptions for 116 yards vs. Notre Dame, including a 47-yard TD strike from Ryan Van Dyke with 7:51 left to give MSU a 17-10 victory. Faced with a third-and-6 midway through the fourth quarter, Rogers caught a quick slant from Van Dyke, spun out of Vontez Duff's attempted tackle and outraced three Notre Dame defensive backs to the end zone for the game-winning score.
ROGERS, HAYGOOD RANK AMONG NCAA'S TOP RECEIVING DUOS -
THORNHILL NAMED SPORTING NEWS & FOOTBALL NEWS ALL-AMERICAN -
Thornhill recorded his 22nd career double-figure game in tackles vs. Penn State (12). He has posted double figures in tackles in eight of his last nine starts, including Penn State, Purdue (13), Indiana (14), Michigan (12), Wisconsin (11), Minnesota (10), Iowa (season high 16) and Northwestern (13). The Butkus Award semifinalist leads the Spartan defense in production points with 206 and ranks second in tackles for losses with 13 for 25 yards.
Thornhill currently ranks fourth on Michigan State's all-time tackles chart with 391 career stops. Earlier this season, he became only the 12th player in Spartan history to reach the 300-tackle milestone.
The 6-foot-2, 239-pounder from Lansing, Mich., has started 39 consecutive games. Thornhill was nominated for several other national awards, including the Bronko Nagurski Trophy (defensive player of the year) and Lombardi Award (top lineman).
THORNHILL EARNS ACADEMIC ALL-AMERICA HONORS -
To be nominated for the Academic All-America Team, a student-athlete must be a starter or important reserve with at least a 3.2 cumulative grade-point average (on a 4.0 scale) for his career. He also must have reached sophomore athletic and academic standing.
District IV includes all schools from the states of Alabama, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee.
Three other Michigan State players - senior snapper Tony Grant (electrical engineering, 3.39 GPA), senior placekicker David Schaefer (economics, 3.41) and sophomore defensive tackle Kyle Rasmussen (physiology, 3.60)- were nominated for the Academic All-District IV Team.
THORNHILL HONORED BY NATIONAL FOOTBALL FOUNDATION -
The selection is based upon the candidate's academic achievement, athletic ability and leadership qualities.
BAKER REWRITES SPARTAN RECORD BOOK -
With a season-high seven receptions for 76 yards vs. Penn State, Baker moved into fifth place on MSU's all-time list with 126 career catches. He also caught his 13th career TD pass, a 2-yard toss from Jeff Smoker in the fourth quarter, good for ninth place (tie) on the Spartans' all-time TD receptions list.
His 1,661 career receiving yards rank 12th on the Spartans' all-time chart.
With six catches for 76 yards vs. Minnesota, he broke the tight end mark previously held by Mark Brammer, who had 107 catches from 1976-79.
A 6-foot-3, 263-pound senior from Saline, Mich., Baker caught five passes for a career-best 99 yards vs. Northwestern. He had a TD catch in each of the first two games - a 9-yarder from Jeff Smoker vs. Central Michigan and a 6-yarder from Ryan Van Dyke vs. Notre Dame.
DUCKETT DELIVERS DOWN THE STRETCH -
Duckett has played as well as anyone down the stretch, averaging 131.5 yards rushing over his last six games, including four 100-yard outings.
In the regular-season finale vs. Missouri, "Diesel" played only three quarters but still managed to rack up 149 yards on 25 rushes, including three TD runs. Duckett had TD runs of 1 and 9 yards in the first half and added a 4-yard scoring run in the third quarter.
With 126 yards on 22 carries vs. Penn State, Duckett hit the 1,000-yard rushing mark for a second-straight year and became only the fifth running back in Michigan State history to reach the 3,000-yard career rushing milestone. It also marked Duckett's third career 100-yard rushing game vs. Penn State. In three games against the Nittany Lions, he has gained 419 yards (139.7 per game) on 65 rushes and scored five touchdowns.
Duckett earned USAToday.com National Player of the Week and Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week honors after producing a season-high 211 yards on 27 rushes in MSU's 26-24 upset victory over No. 6 Michigan. He became the first running back this season to gain 100 yards against Michigan, which entered the game ranked first in the NCAA in rushing defense, allowing only 54.4 yards per game. Duckett also became the first back in Spartan history to record a 200-yard rushing game in the MSU-Michigan series. His 2-yard touchdown run in the second quarter vs. Michigan gave the Spartans a 14-10 lead. Duckett also caught three passes for 19 yards vs. Michigan including the game winner, a 2-yard TD toss from Jeff Smoker as time expired.
Duckett rushed for 186 yards on 23 carries and two scores vs. Wisconsin. He gained 169 yards in the second half against the Badgers and his second touchdown run, a 43-yarder in the third quarter, gave Michigan State the lead for good at 21-14. Duckett's 68-yard run late in the third quarter set up another Spartan TD.
Duckett gained 104 yards on 22 rushes vs. Northwestern, including a 1-yard TD run. He won the head-to-head matchup vs. Northwestern's Damien Anderson, who managed only 75 yards on 28 rushes.
He became only the 12th running back in Michigan State history to reach the 2,000-yard career rushing plateau in the 2001 season opener vs. Central Michigan, picking up 120 yards on 22 attempts. It marked Duckett's third-straight 100-yard game, dating back to Game 10 vs. Purdue last season, and the eighth of his career. His 31-yard touchdown run around right end gave the Spartans a 35-7 lead early in the third quarter.
The 6-foot-1, 249-pound junior tailback has 13 career 100-yard rushing games, including six in 2001. Duckett already ranks among the Spartans' career leaders in rushing yards (fifth with 3,195), rushing touchdowns (sixth with 27), rushing attempts (sixth with 594) and all-purpose yards (11th at 3,346).
JARRETT REACHES 10,000-YARD MILESTONE -
Jarrett's punts have traveled 5.7 miles (10,023 yards on 234 punts) during his four-year career while Mojsienko's punts totaled nearly seven miles.
Jarrett's career 42.8-yard punting average ranks fourth on MSU's all-time list.
LABINJO ON A RAMPAGE -
Labinjo contributed nine stops (7-2) vs. Wisconsin, including four for losses (25 yards). He earned Spartan Defensive Player of the Week honors for the second time this season after registering a career-high three sacks (23 yards) against the Badgers.
He recorded a career-high 16 tackles (11-5) vs. Northwestern with three going for losses (10 yards), including a 7-yard sack. He shared Spartan Defensive Player of the Week honors vs. Notre Dame after producing six tackles (3-3), including three behind the line of scrimmage (9 yards). Labinjo helped ice Michigan State's 17-10 victory at Notre Dame, dropping Irish placekicker Nicholas Setta for a 3-yard loss on a fake field-goal attempt with 4:09 left in the game.
STANLEY, WHITTICKER NAMED FRESHMAN ALL-AMERICANS -
Stanley, who started 10 of 11 games at WILL linebacker, recorded 42 tackles (21 solos, 21 assists), including three for losses (6 yards). The 6-foot, 219-pound true freshman had a season-high seven stops each vs. Notre Dame (4-3) and Purdue (2-5). He registered a tackle for loss in each of his last three games, including sacks in back-to-back games against Purdue and Penn State.
Whitticker, who started 10 of 11 games at right guard, saved his best for last, grading out over 90 percent in five of his last six starts, including the last four games in a row. The 6-6, 299-pound red-shirt freshman scored a season-high 95 percent in the 2001 regular-season finale vs. Missouri, including seven pancakes. He also produced high marks vs. Penn State (94 percent), Purdue (91), Indiana (94), Wisconsin (94) and Central Michigan (93). Whitticker ranks third on the team in pancakes with 56, including a season-high 10 knockdowns vs. Minnesota.
FLOWERS NAMED FOURTH CAPTAIN -
"Little John Flowers was the team's fourth-leading vote getter last spring and with the leadership he's provided throughout the summer and during preseason camp, he's worthy of being named captain," Williams said. "I really appreciate what Little John has done to help develop the young players on the roster, especially the freshmen. I also like the way he has rallied the players during times of adversity.
"I admire the way Little John has accepted his playing role on this team. He has done everything we've asked him to do and he's worked himself into the best shape of his career. Little John knows T.J. Duckett is the featured running back on this team but he has pushed T.J. every day in practice. There's no question, Little John has helped make T.J. a better player."
SPARTAN'S OPENING-DAY LINEUP FEATURED SIX NEW FACES -
YOUTH IS SERVED -
True freshmen (7): FS Robert Flagg, CB Damien Fortson, DE Eric Knott, PK Dave Rayner, LB Ronald Stanley, DT Kevin Vickerson, LT Stefon Wheeler.
WALK-ONS AWARDED SCHOLARSHIPS -
"RED ZONE" UPDATE -
SPARTANS SET SEASON-TICKET SALES RECORD -
The previous record for season tickets sold was 61,479 in 2000. Michigan State football season-ticket sales have topped the 60,000 mark four of the last five years.
PLAYING IN FRONT OF A FULL HOUSE -
Michigan State's 2001 opponents had a combined record of 50-61 (.450) during the regular season. Note: Record doesn't include games played against MSU. The Spartans went 2-1 in games played against bowl-bound teams.
VAN PELT ELECTED TO COLLEGE FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME -
A three-year starter for Coach Duffy Daugherty, Van Pelt earned first-team All-America honors as both a junior and senior. As a sophomore in 1970, he had 80 tackles (42 solos, 38 assists) and a career-high six interceptions. As a junior, Van Pelt recorded 92 stops (51-41) and picked off four passes. He returned two interceptions for touchdowns against Oregon State in 1971, with returns covering 40 and 47 yards. As a senior, the 6-foot-5, 221-pound safety produced 84 tackles (42-42) and four interceptions. In 1972, he became the first defensive back ever to receive the Maxwell Award as the nation's top collegiate player.
A native of Owosso, Mich., Van Pelt finished his collegiate career with 256 tackles and 14 interceptions. He was named to the Lansing State Journal's MSU Centennial Super Squad in 1996 and MSU Athletics Hall of Fame in 2000.
A second-round draft pick by the New York Giants in 1973, he spent 14 years in the National Football League and earned All-Pro honors five times (1976-80).
The 2001 Class also featured former Southern Cal halfback Jon Arnett, Georgia placekicker Kevin Butler, Michigan wide receiver Anthony Carter, Navy end Dick Duden, Syracuse defensive tackle Tim Green, Notre Dame quarterback Ralph Guglielmi, Ohio State tackle John Hicks, Oklahoma tight end Keith Jackson, Clemson defensive back Terry Kinard, Mississippi State linebacker D.D. Lewis, North Carolina running back Don McCauley, Kansas and Pennsylvania tackle John Outland, Penn State lineman Glenn Ressler and Brigham Young quarterback Steve Young plus former head coaches Barry Switzer (Oklahoma), Grant Teaff (McMurry, Angelo State and Baylor) and Bill Yeoman (Houston).
Van Pelt became the fifth former Michigan State player to be selected for the College Football Hall of Fame, joining tackle Don Coleman (inducted in 1975), halfback John Pingel (1968), defensive end Bubba Smith (1988) and linebacker George Webster (1987).
SPARTANS IN THE NFL -
SPARTANS TOUGH ON HOME TURF -
The Spartans had their nine-game winning streak in Spartan Stadium snapped by Northwestern, 37-17, in the 2000 Big Ten opener Sept. 30. It marked Michigan State's longest home winning streak since the Spartans had their 12-game run ended by the 10-10 tie with Notre Dame on Nov. 19, 1966.
MAGIC NUMBER 24 -
at the official