Michigan State great Van Pelt dies at 57

Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

It's hard to envision an athlete accomplishing more at a school than Brad Van Pelt did at Michigan State.

He earned seven varsity letters for the Spartans in three different sports. He earned first-team All-America honors as a safety in his final two seasons and became the first defensive back to receive the Maxwell Award as the game's top player in 1972. He also pitched for Michigan State's 1971 Big Ten championship baseball squad and played three seasons on the hoops squad.

Few collegiate athletes today would be allowed to take on such a heavy sporting load. Fewer could excel like Van Pelt, whose talent on the diamond nearly led to a pro baseball career before the New York Giants drafted him and he became a star.

Van Pelt died suddenly Tuesday of an apparent heart attack in Harrison, Mich. He was 57.

Former Michigan State football coach George Perles was an assistant during Van Pelt's playing days and remembered the Spartans star.

"Brad Van Pelt was Duffy Daugherty's favorite player," Perles said in a prepared statement. "Duffy loved him like a son. Brad was a talented high school quarterback, who got moved to strong safety in college. During his college career, he might have been the biggest safety in the Big Ten, if not the country. ... He really was like a movie star: talented and good looking. Brad had a big heart and was a real giver. He carried a lot of people [on his back] when he was on top."

I haven't posted my Mount Rushmore for Michigan State football, but there's a pretty good chance Van Pelt will be on there.