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April 14, 2009

Spring game particulars

MSU has finalized its schedule for the April 25 spring game.

Here are those details, along with other items of note from MSU. So far, $31,500 of about $50,000 needed for Arthur Ray Jr. has been raised. And look for much more from us in the near future on the John Shinsky orphanage.

EAST LANSING, Mich. – Michigan  State football concludes its 15 spring practices under third-year head coach Mark Dantonio with the Green-White intrasquad game on Saturday, April 25 at 1:30 p.m. in Spartan Stadium. Parking is free (in Lots T-79, A-62, S-56, P-39/40, H-63 and M-66), and the stadium gates (Gates B, C, J and K) open at 12 p.m. Admission is free.

For the second year in a row, fans will have an opportunity to purchase press box seats and enjoy the same view as the media that cover Spartan football. Only 100 press box seats – priced at $50 each – are on sale for the spring game. (Note: Minimum age requirement is 12 for press box admission.) Proceeds from the sale of press box seats will benefit both the Arthur Ray Fund and George Webster Scholarship Fund. Fans may order press box seats online at msuspartans.com. Click here to order your press box seats online.

Two months after signing a National Letter of Intent as a member of MSU’s 2007 recruiting class, offensive lineman Arthur Ray Jr., then a senior at Mount Carmel High School in Chicago , Ill. , began chemotherapy to treat a cancerous tumor, located on the mid shift of his leg bone near the calf. In July 2007, he underwent successful surgery to remove the cancerous tumor. Since the original procedure, Ray has undergone three additional bone-graft surgeries, most recently in December 2008. The billing for these surgical procedures has exceeded the insurance cap for his treatment, so Ray has outstanding invoices totaling nearly $50,000.

Since the account opened on April 1, 2008, Spartan fans have contributed more than $31,500 to the Arthur Ray Fund.

The George Webster Scholarship Fund, created in February 2007 through the generosity of Jim Nelson (1960 MSU graduate from Ada , Mich. ), provides opportunities for former student-athletes to return to Michigan State each year and complete their degrees. The 2008-09 scholarship recipients are Eric Knott (football, 2001-04), Roshanda Venyah (track, 2006-07) and Jonathan Walker (football, 1996-98).

Born Nov. 25, 1945, in Anderson , S.C. , Webster earned three letters for the Spartans from 1964-66, while playing for legendary head football coach Duffy Daugherty. The two-time consensus All-American and two-time all-conference selection helped Michigan State to a combined record of 19-1-1 in 1965-66 as the Spartans won back-to-back Big Ten Conference and National Championships. At 6-foot-4, 218 pounds, he revolutionized the roverback position with his size and speed. As a senior, Webster recorded 93 tackles, including 10 for losses, as Michigan State ranked third nationally in rushing defense, allowing just 51.4 yards per game. In 1967, he became just the second former Spartan to have his jersey number (No. 90) retired. Webster was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1987. He has been rated among the 100 Greatest Players of All-Time by CollegeFootballNews.com.

A first-round selection (No. 5 overall) by the Houston Oilers in 1967, Webster spent 10 years in the National Football League (Houston, 1967-72; Pittsburgh, 1972-73; and New England, 1974-76). He was selected the American Football League's Rookie of the Year by United Press International after averaging more than 10 tackles per game in 1967. Webster played in three AFL All-Star Games, earning Defensive MVP honors in 1969. In 1970, he was named to the AFL's All-Time Team (first team) by a special panel of Pro Football Hall of Fame voters.

Webster died of heart failure on April 19, 2007, at the age of 61.

Prior to the spring game, MSU’s coaching staff and players will conduct a free youth football clinic (no registration required). Children, ages 8-12, are invited to attend the youth clinic from 10-11:30 a.m. on the grass practice fields behind the Duffy Daugherty Football Building , located at the corner of Chestnut Road and Shaw Lane . Clinic participants and their parents are requested to enter the practice fields through the gate on Shaw Lane . Over the last six years, nearly 2,500 children have participated in the annual youth football clinic.

The purpose of the clinic is to introduce youngsters to the game by stressing fundamentals. No football gear is required. From 11:30 a.m.-12:15 p.m., Coach Dantonio and his players will be available for an autograph session for clinic participants. In addition, clinic participants will receive a coupon for a complimentary hot dog and soft drink to be redeemed at a concession stand in Spartan Stadium during the spring game.

Additional spring game notes:
• The Spartan Radio Network will broadcast the spring game, with a list of statewide affiliates to be published in the near future.
• Michigan State ’s spring football games have attracted crowds in excess of 20,000 each of the last two years, with estimated attendance totals of 25,000 in 2007 and 27,000 in 2008. Those spring game attendance figures have ranked among the nation’s top 20 each of the last two years: No. 11 (tied with Florida State ) in 2007 and No. 17 in 2008.
• Fans are reminded that all digital video recording devices are strictly prohibited during the spring game.
• Fans also are reminded that the “open container” ordinance will be enforced on campus and in parking lots for the spring football game.

• At halftime of the spring game, three former Spartan football players – John Shinsky (defensive tackle, 1970; 1972-73), Joe DeLamielleure (offensive guard, 1970-72) and Eljay (Bryce) Bowron (offensive tackle/defensive tackle, 1969-71) – will kick off an 18-day, 2,000-mile bike ride to Matamoros, Mexico, in an effort to fundraise $500,000 to help complete a 33,000-square-foot orphanage, “The City of the Children.” For more information regarding the bike ride, please visit www.orphanagefundraiser.com.

Weekend Sports Calendar (On-campus and football-related events scheduled for April 24-26)
Friday, April 24

MSU Football Players Association Golf Outing, 10 a.m. (Brookshire Inn & Golf Club, Williamston , Mich. )

Women’s Soccer: exhibition vs. Central Michigan , 4 p.m. (DeMartin Stadium)

Saturday, April 25
Men’s Golf: Fossum/Spartan Invitational, 8:30 a.m. (Forest Akers West Course)

Youth Football Clinic, 10-11:30 a.m. (Duffy Daugherty Football Building/grass practice fields)

Men’s Soccer: exhibition vs. Bowling Green , 1 p.m. (DeMartin Stadium)

Spring Football Game, 1:30 p.m. (Spartan Stadium)

Sunday, April 26
Men’s Golf: Fossum/Spartan Invitational, 8:30 a.m. (Forest Akers West Course)

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Joe Rexrode
MSU Sports Reporter
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