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Saturday, April 19, 2014

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Fans brave frigid temperatures to welcome back Spartans


Junior punter Mike Sadler signs autographs in the Spartan Stadium parking lot after leaving Skandalaris Football Center on Jan. 2, 2014. The team was greeted by waiting fans for the home coming following the Rose Bowl win on Jan. 1. Danyelle Morrow/The State News

Fans weathered frigid temperatures to welcome members of the Spartan football team back to East Lansing on Thursday night.

As the temperature fell close to zero, about 200 fans staked outside the Skandalaris Football Center, weathering the bitter temperatures for more than an hour as the team’s plane was delayed. When the bus arrived, they welcomed back the players and coaches like conquering heroes.

Head Coach Mark Dantonio said he is proud of fans for supporting the team — for enduring the freezing weather Thursday and for making the cross-country trip to Pasadena, Calif.

“We’ve had some success here and now we’ve gotten over the hump,” Dantonio said, speaking to reporters about the team’s future.

Senior linebacker Kyler Elsworth was treated like a celebrity by fans, who surrounded him long after other players left in hopes of getting an autograph or posing for a photo. The former walk-on, who filled in for suspended team captain Max Bullough, described his final stop against Stanford that sealed that Spartans’ victory.

“As soon as we hit him I knew he didn’t make it across the line,” Elsworth said.

It is still a mystery why Bullough was suspended. Dantonio again declined to discuss the matter with reporters Thursday.

MSU Athletics Director Mark Hollis said the university is planning to host a celebration at Breslin Center next week when students return to campus, although the details are not set in stone.

Junior punter Mike Sadler said the week in Pasadena was “fun and focused.”

“We had fun all week,” he said. “We had to take time and smell the roses — I hope that’s not too cliché.”

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