Michigan State Football: Ranking top 5 quarterbacks since 2000

Kirk Cousins, Michigan State football (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Kirk Cousins, Michigan State football (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /
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Michigan State football
Drew Stanton, Michigan State football (Photo by Domenic Centofanti/Getty Images) /

The Drew Stanton vs. Jeff Smoker debate for this No. 3 spot was a tough one. On one hand, Smoker put up some big numbers throughout his career and on the other, he was just too turnover prone and some would argue that Stanton was just a better overall quarterback.

Both were NFL draft picks, but Stanton went in round two and Smoker was a sixth-rounder. That’s pretty indicative of how each of their careers in East Lansing went.

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Unfortunately for Stanton, he, too, was on mediocre teams during his time at Michigan State. He redshirted in 2002 and sat behind Smoker in 2003 before taking over as the starter in 2004 all the way through his senior year in 2006.

As a sophomore, he passed for 1,601 yards and just eight touchdowns with six picks. He didn’t have a problem with his accuracy, completing 64 percent of his throws. He was also a top-tier dual-threat quarterback for the Spartans, rushing for 687 yards and five touchdowns in 2004.

Stanton’s breakout season was in 2005 as a junior when he threw for 3,077 yards and 22 touchdowns and completed 66 percent of his passes. He also added four rushing scores.

Health was always a concern as he was injured on multiple occasions throughout his career and he finished his career on a quiet note with just 1,807 yards and 12 passing touchdowns as a senior. He did run for five more touchdowns, but he didn’t quite go out on top.

If he was healthy throughout his career, Stanton may have been one of the top two guys on this list, but for now, he’ll settle as the best pre-Mark Dantonio quarterback since 2000.