Spartan faithful pay tribute to No. 3 — Mike Sadler

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

East Lansing — As a sellout crowd of Michigan State fans made their way toward Spartan Stadium late Saturday morning, there was a pretty even split between green and white T-shirts.

Mike Sadler

That's because Michigan State was striping the stadium, with sections alternating between white and green for the desired effect.

There was a commonality among the sections, though.

Many of the T-shirts, green or white, had "Sadler" and No. 3 on the back.

Michigan State paid tribute to the late Mike Sadler, the personable All-American punter who died in a car crash in July. The university waived the traditional 10-year waiting period and inducted Sadler into the Michigan State Hall of Fame earlier in the week.

"Mike played such a pivotal role here with us during his time, and, you know, to have a fallen brother, you definitely want to play a little harder for him," said junior Shane Jones, who wore a white Sadler T-shirt to the postgame press conference following a 30-6 loss to Wisconsin. "Seeing that No. 3 in the middle of the field, it meant a lot for us."

Michigan State put Sadler's No. 3 in green, in the middle of the white Spartan helmet logo at midfield.

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A commemorative coin — heads was represented by Sadler and tails was represented by late Nebraska punter Sam Foltz, who died in the Wisconsin crash in which LSU kicker Colby Delahoussaye survived— was used during the pregame flip at midfield.

Wisconsin respectfully called heads — for Sadler — and it came up heads.

Then, on the first play from scrimmage, MSU gave the ball to the current player wearing No. 3, sophomore tailback LJ Scott, who scampered 19 yards for a first down.

Sadler — who was 24, played at MSU from 2011-14 and was survived by his parents and sister — also was recognized at halftime.

A green banner with his No. 3 was unfurled in the student section.

"To come out and play, not just for us but for Mike today, and Mike's family, that's like our family," Jones said.