Big Ten: Gary Ganakas
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
The sudden death of former Michigan State and New York Giants star Brad Van Pelt on Tuesday brought tributes from around the sports world. Here are several statements from current and former Michigan State dignitaries about Van Pelt, a two-time All-American safety for the Spartans.
Head football coach Mark Dantonio: "A three-sport athlete at Michigan State, Brad Van Pelt didn't simply compete at the collegiate level; he excelled. Brad is truly one of the all-time greats in Spartan football history. I had an opportunity to visit with Brad during his tour of the new Skandalaris Football Center last year, and I could sense his Spartan pride. He impacted a lot of lives during his college and pro careers. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Van Pelt family in this time of grief."
Athletic director Mark Hollis: "Brad Van Pelt ranks among the greatest multi-sport athletes in Michigan State history. He truly was a bigger than life sports figure. Brad was a loyal Spartan, who cared deeply about everyone associated with this university."
Former Michigan State basketball player Gary Ganakas, a teammate of Van Pelt's: "Brad Van Pelt was a wonderful person. He seemed to be everybody's friend because he acted like a big kid in sports and in life. He will be missed by everyone he touched during his life. Brad had a good heart. He never forgot that he came from Owosso [Mich.]. Despite all of his success in college and during his 14-year NFL career, he never big-timed people.
"He was simply a nice guy. He was an avid golfer and some of my fondest memories come from the golf course. Brad was certainly fun to watch on the tee box because he swung so hard. He swung as hard as any amateur or pro that I've ever seen. Everybody near the tee box took a step back because his ball could fly anywhere. When Brad swung his golf club, he took people's breath away. It truly was a pleasure to play a round of golf with him."
Former Michigan State football player Joe DeLamielleure: "Brad Van Pelt was the modern day Jim Thorpe and that's no exaggeration. He played three sports at Michigan State and excelled in all three. Anything he picked up he could do well and if he concentrated, he would do it great. Obviously, Brad was a tremendous college football player because he's in the Hall of Fame, and if he had played on better teams with the New York Giants, he'd be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, too.
"Honestly, Brad played the wrong position in college. He could have been our starting quarterback because he could throw the ball a mile. Brad also had an offensive player's personality. We spent my entire college career searching for a quarterback. If Brad had played quarterback, we would have won a lot more games. He was a natural athlete and looked smooth in everything that he did. Unfortunately, George Perles and Hank Bullough pulled him away [from quarterback] to become the big playmaker for our defense.
"Brad and I played against each other in the NFL and we had several head-to-head battles. He loved to play the game. In so many ways, he was just a big kid. Brad was a humble man -- the guy next door."