EAST LANSING, Mich. — In some ways, having a bye week now is a drag for Michigan State. In others, it couldn’t have come at a better time.
As many as 13 Spartans players, according to guard and Houston native Tyler Higby, will head down to his city on Friday morning to help with Hurricane Harvey relief. They will come back on Sunday. Michigan State did not put out a press release detailing the trip.
Higby is one of two Houston natives playing for Michigan State, along with wide receiver Darrell Stewart. Wide receivers coach Terrence Samuel grew up in the city. All three have been affected to varying degrees by the disaster.
Phil Gillespie put forth the idea for the trip. He runs the Michigan State branch of Athletes in Action, a Christian fellowship for college athletes. Higby latched on, started making plans with his mother and was honored to see teammates join in.
“It means a lot because I knew going through that week it was all happening, I got my teammates asking me how I’m doing,” Higby said Tuesday after practice. “It means a lot they’re taking the two days off to go down there and help pick up houses, rebuild houses, help people move furniture and stuff.”
The plan originated with good intentions, and Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio said the goal was not good publicity. For that reason, he chose not to divulge much information about the trip when asked. In fact, he didn’t seem to know a whole lot about it.
“There’s a sufficient number of people going down there,” he said. “I think it’s for aid. I’m not going to sit here and talk about who’s going or all these different things. I just think it’s a good thing. It’s a good cause. And our guys are going down for the right reasons. I’ll just leave it at that.”
Stewart, whose mother and siblings were left stranded at home for several days while other family had to evacuate, spoke in August about how he wished he could help out Houston like Texans star J.J. Watt and other celebrities who donated or raised millions.
Now he has that chance. Stewart told MLive’s Matt Wenzel after the win Saturday over Western Michigan that along with aid, he wants to provide hope.
“One thing I told the guys, I was like, ‘The main goal for me is going back and giving back to the city that gave a lot to me,'” he said. “Going back and seeing people going through devastating times, I just want to … make them happy and let them know that we’ve got hope. As long as you have faith in God, anything is possible.”