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Every Step of the way with Kirk Cousins

Sep 02, 2011 Adam Ruff | View Comments

Kirk Cousins has been a complete revelation for Mark Dantonio and the Michigan State Spartans. A little known, 2-star QB from Holland, Kirk had two scholarship offers - from Western Michigan and Toledo - when Dantonio came calling a short time before signing day in 2007.

And suddenly, four years and a Big Ten title later, Cousins will begin his final season of eligibility at Michigan State.

But for as long as he can remember the college game has always a part of his life, especially when you consider that he split his time growing up in the Chicago suburbs, in addition to Holland.

"As a result, I was around much of the Big Ten conference," said Cousins. "I remember in first grade was the year that Northwestern went to the Rose Bowl and the entire city of Chicago caught on fire following the Wildcats."

"My family had a lot of tradition with Iowa, so I grew up a big Iowa Hawkeye fan watching them play. Then, we moved to Michigan and I grew up around the Michigan, Michigan State rivalry. So I grew up a college football fan almost by default."

At Holland Christian High School Kirk was a three sport star earning all-conference honors in football, basketball and baseball. When he graduated in 2007, he was the most decorated football player in school history, holding 35 school records. However, he admits that stat is a bit misleading.

"At Holland Christian, we had just started football," Kirk says. "So the record book was not very deep. There was only one quarterback before me. So as long as I had greater numbers than that one quarterback, I was going to hold all of the school records."

And now, all of those 35 records are broken.

"Let's factor in the point, that the quarterback who followed me then broke every single one of those records and they won a State Championship. And he (Soph. A.J. Westendorp) now plays at Central Michigan."

"Those records were not held for very long and it wasn't a very deep record book," Cousins says with a smirk, "But again, if you say I set 35 passing records at one school, it sounds pretty impressive."

But then, the caveat.

"I usually don't stop anybody (when his records are brought up), but I'll tell the story there."

Despite the numbers, Kirk still wasn't heavily recruited. He held out on making a commitment to Western Michigan or Toledo, until his patience paid off at long last.

"I felt good about both of those situations," says Cousins. "But there was an opportunity I was waiting on at Michigan State and they were in the position where they had just come on to the scene and were looking to put together a recruiting class."

Kirk visited East Lansing in January of 2007 without a scholarship offer. And opposed to the coaches attempting to "woo" Kirk with a dazzling recruiting pitch, the roles were reversed.

"Later that week, Coach Treadwell - who has now moved on - came to a basketball practice of mine," said Kirk. "He wanted to see my athleticism, how I moved on the basketball court and through that I was able to earn a scholarship."

He was a star on the scout team while redshirting as a true freshman, then backed up Brian Hoyer in 2008. But before the 2009 season, and before he was even named the starting quarterback, Kirk was voted in as team captain.

Both he and Coach Dantonio knew that being named a captain as a sophomore would be a new challenge.

"I just made sure that I never overstepped my boundaries," said Kirk. "I think, being that I was only a sophomore, there were times when I needed to step back and let seniors say what needed to be said, or let seniors take the leadership role"

Now, as his leadership and on-field skills have exponentially grown, as part of his preparation for his senior season, Kirk was invited to be a counselor at the prestigious Manning Passing Camp in Thibodaux, Louisiana.

As one of only 35 college quarterbacks invited to the camp, Kirk had the opportunity to coach and mentor the next generation of QB's as well as gain a few friendships with fellow collegiate signal callers.

"The fact that those guys are all having the same experiences as I am, just at different places, it was fun to get to know them and learn from them," said Kirk. "And then to be around the Manning's, obviously one of the most storied families in sports history, and to talk with Peyton and Eli about all of the experiences that they've had and try to learn a little from how they prepare and how they've been able to take themselves to the level they have is a great experience."

Now heading into his senior season, the question needs to be asked, what does the future hold?

"Well that's a big question, I don't know," said the three year starter. "I'm excited for an opportunity to play professionally. Obviously this upcoming season and how I play will make a difference in that direction."

"But I'm not going to play for thirty years, so I need a plan beyond that."

Kirk will graduate this December with a degree in Kinesiology. He has great interest in many things, including, physical fitness, coaching, and medicine. But no matter what, he's not going to close the door on anything.

"Really I have a lot of options, and I have no real idea quite yet of what I want to do, or what I'm going to lean towards doing."

While there may be some uncertainty in the future, one thing is for sure.

This season, Kirk Cousins wants to lead the Spartans back to another Big Ten Championship.


2008 - 32-43, 310 yds, 2 TD, 1 INT
2009 - 198-328, 2,680 yds, 19 TD, 9 INT
2010 - 226-338, 2,825 yds, 20 TD, 10 INT


Pass Completion Percentage (Career)

  1. Kirk Cousins - 64.3% (2008-10)
  2. Drew Stanton - 64.2% (2003-06)
  3. Jim Miller - 62.6% (1990-93)
  4. Dan Enos - 62.1% (1987-90)
  5. Todd Schultz - 60.7% (1994-97
Passing Efficiency Rating (Career)

  1. Kirk Cousins - 146.7 (2008-10)
  2. Gene Glick - 142.3 (1946-49)
  3. Earl Morrall - 140.5 (1953-55)
  4. Drew Stanton - 138.7 (2003-06)
  5. Jim Ninowski - 136.0 (1955-57)
Passing Yards (Career)

  1. Jeff Smoker - 8,932 (2000-03)
  2. Drew Stanton - 6,524 (2003-06)
  3. Brian Hoyer - 6,159 (2005-08)
  4. Kirk Cousins - 5,815 (2008-10)
  5. Dave Yarema - 5,809 (1982-86)
Touchdown Passes (Career)

  1. Jeff Smoker - 61 (2000-03)
  2. Bill Burke - 46 (1996-99)
  3. Dave Yarema - 44 (1982-86)
  4. Ed Smith - 43 (1976-78)
  5. Drew Stanton - 42 (2003-06)
  6. Kirk Cousins - 41 (2008-10)
Pass Completions (Career)

  1. Jeff Smoker - 685 (2000-03)
  2. Drew Stanton - 543 (2003-06)
  3. Brian Hoyer - 500 (2005-08)
  4. Jim Miller - 467 (1990-93)
  5. Dave Yarema - 464 (1982-86)
  6. Kirk Cousins - 456 (2008-10)
Pass Attempts (Career)

  1. Jeff Smoker - 1,150 (2000-03)
  2. Brian Hoyer - 896 (2005-08)
  3. Drew Stanton - 846 (2003-06)
  4. Ed Smith - 789 (1976-78)
  5. Dave Yarema - 767 (1982-86)

Kirk Cousins - 709 (2008-10)