Michigan State Football: Top 10 players of the Mark Dantonio era

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There might not be a more well-liked Spartan in Michigan State history than quarterback Kirk Cousins. Mark Dantonio got a steal on the recruiting trail when he found Cousins, a guy who was being offered by mainly MAC schools and spent his whole like hoping to play in the Big Ten.

As one of the lower-ranked three-star recruits in the country, Cousins was offered by just five colleges and the No. 24 player in Michigan for the 2008 class jumped at the chance to play for Mark Dantonio and the Spartans despite not knowing what his career had in store for him — heck, no young underrated recruit does.

Cousins then became one of the most decorated athletes in Spartan history and easily one of the most beloved. Kirk earned the nickname “Captain Kirk” by the Michigan State fan base and he was looked at as a calm, cool and collected individual who never cracked under pressure.

While people were quick to jump on Cousins after a loss or a bad offensive drive, he always seemed to silence critics with his fiery personality on the field followed by results.

Kirk didn’t play much as a freshman, learning behind Brian Hoyer in 2008 before earning the starting job in 2009 and keeping it through his senior year in 2011. Cousins had a solid first year of starting as a sophomore, passing for 2,680 yards, 19 touchdowns and just nine interceptions.

Each of the following seasons saw an improvement in those numbers as Cousins finished his career with 9,131 yards and 66 passing touchdowns — both No. 1 all-time in MSU history. He’s also the record-holder for career completions, 723, and games passing over 200 yards, 26.

Cousins is a legend at Michigan State, but there is one more legendary player ahead of him.

Next: 1. Le'Veon Bell, RB