Early open date allows Spartans to help with Harvey relief
East Lansing, Mich. — An early break in Michigan State's schedule is giving Tyler Higby a chance to go back home to the flood-ravaged Houston area.
He's bringing some teammates with him.
Higby, an offensive lineman for the Spartans, said about a dozen players will make the trip to Texas later this week to spend a couple days helping relief efforts in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. He expects to head down Friday and return Sunday, and he appreciates his teammates' willingness to go with him during an open date for Michigan State.
"It really means a lot to me," said Higby, who is from Houston. "We don't really get much time off, and the two days we do get off, they're willing to take time and come down to Houston to help. We'll be in the hot sun all day, helping people move out of the house, move some furniture around, building walls and stuff, so it really does mean a lot."
Higby's parents live in the Houston area, and he has plenty of relatives and friends there as well. It hasn't been easy to focus on football the past couple weeks, but Higby has been glad to have something to help take his mind off the scary situation in Texas.
"I have probably 20 family members down there," he said. "Most of my family was good. Some of them had to go to higher ground. Some of my friends, their houses were completely destroyed, because the flood water was 4-to-5 feet high."
A weekend off this early in the season isn't always welcome for college football players. They haven't had a chance to settle into a groove yet, and the open date might be more helpful later.
But for Higby, it's coming at a good time.
"Looking at it now, after everything that's happened, it's really nice to be able to go back home and be with family," Higby said. "Just help the community and help them rebuild a little bit."
Coach Mark Dantonio hasn't provided many details about the trip. He's said he wants it to remain under the radar, an indication that the program isn't looking for any sort of extra publicity for this.
"There's a sufficient number of people going down there," Dantonio said after being asked about the trip Tuesday. "It's for aid. I'm not going to sit here and talk about who is 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 reason. So just leave it with that."
It will also be a chance for players to spend some time together away from the field.
"We're all staying at my house. So we'll be in one house together, kind of like a bonding thing," Higby said. "A bunch of air mattresses around the house and stuff. It'll be fun."
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