EAST LANSING, Mich. â€“ Former Michigan State All-American George Webster died of heart failure on Thursday, April 19 in Houston, Texas. He was 61.
Born Nov. 25, 1945, in Anderson, S.C., Webster earned three letters for the Spartans from 1964-66, while playing for legendary head football coach Duffy Daugherty. The two-time consensus All-American and two-time all-conference selection helped Michigan State to a combined record of 19-1-1 in 1965-66 as the Spartans won back-to-back Big Ten Conference and National Championships. At 6-foot-4, 218 pounds, he revolutionized the roverback position with his size and speed. As a senior, Webster recorded 93 tackles, including 10 for losses, as Michigan State ranked third nationally in rushing defense, allowing just 51.4 yards per game. In 1967, he became just the second former Spartan to have his jersey number (No. 90) retired. Webster was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1987. He has been rated among the 100 Greatest Players of All-Time by CollegeFootballNews.com.
Â A first-round selection (No. 5 overall) by the Houston Oilers in 1967, Webster spent 10 years in the National Football League (Houston, 1967-72; Pittsburgh, 1972-73; and New England, 1974-76). He was selected the American Football Leagueâ€™s Rookie of the Year by United Press International after averaging more than 10 tackles per game in 1967. Webster played in three AFL All-Star Games, earning Defensive MVP honors in 1969. In 1970, he was named to the AFLâ€™s All-Time Team (first team) by a special panel of Pro Football Hall of Fame voters.
Â In February 2007, Michigan State Athletics Director Ron Mason announced the establishment of the George Webster Scholarship Fund, created through the generosity of Jim Nelson (1960 MSU graduate from Ada, Mich.). The George Webster Scholarship Fund provides opportunities for two former student-athletes to return to Michigan State each year and complete their degrees. The first recipients of the scholarship are Richard Newsome (football, 1997-2000) and Antonio Smith (menâ€™s basketball, 1996-99).
Â Webster is survived by his sister Mary Robinson.
Â Â Remembering George Webster . . .
Â Michigan State head football coach Mark Dantonio:
â€œGeorge Webster will be sorely missed by all Spartans. Our thoughts and players are with his sister Mary. I know that he had suffered from failing health for a long, long time. Iâ€™m so thankful that George had a chance to return to the MSU campus last February when a scholarship fund was established in his name.
Â â€œGeorge is one of the greatest players in the history of Michigan State football. In addition, many experts consider him to rank among the greatest defensive players to ever play the college game. His legacy as a true Spartan will live forever.â€
Â Former teammate Ernie Pasteur (fullback/defensive end, 1964-65):
â€œGeorge Webster was a man who exemplified the word â€˜Spartan.â€ He was a true Spartan warrior. George loved Michigan State more than anything in the world, and he stood ready to do whatever he could for his alma mater.
Â â€œThe biggest thrill of Georgeâ€™s life came last February when a scholarship fund was established in his honor. That meant more to him than any football recognition he ever received, including the All-America and All-Pro honors. George firmly believed that everyone should further his or her education to the fullest. He felt that a strong educational background provided the key to a successful professional career as well as enhanced quality of life.
Â â€œWhen George was being recruited by Michigan State, his mother told him that he had to earn his undergraduate degree. After the NFL season, I remember George returning to campus during the summers to finish his degree. Graduating from Michigan State was that important to him.â€
All of this is courtesy of John Lewandowski the MSU SID.Â He did a great job putting all of this together.