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
Kirk Cousins, Michigan State football (Photo by Mark Cunningham/Getty Images) /

Kirk Cousins had an incredible Michigan State career yet fell to the fourth round in the 2012 NFL Draft. Even more confusing was the fact that the team which drafted him (Washington) selected Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III with their first pick. Little did anyone know Cousins would take over for RG3 and eventually become the highest-paid quarterback in the NFL.

That’s the NFL, though. If this list was just about NFL success, Cousins would be at the top, followed by Drew Stanton and Brian Hoyer. But at Michigan State, Cousins is the second-best quarterback since 2000 and potentially in school history.

Cousins was responsible for the start of the turnaround of the Michigan State program under Mark Dantonio. He was the first quarterback commit for the new head coach and was just a two-star recruit at the high school level. Boy, did he out-kick his rankings as a recruit.

Redshirting in 2007, Cousins sat behind Hoyer in 2008 before fighting for the starting job as a sophomore in 2009 with Keith Nichol, a transfer from Oklahoma. He ended up winning the job and the rest is history.

Cousins passed for 2,680 yards and 19 touchdowns as a sophomore and 2,825 yards and 20 touchdowns with a 67 percent completion rate as a junior. His senior year was his best as he threw for 3,316 yards and 33 touchdowns, leading Michigan State to a devastating Big Ten title game loss to Wisconsin before winning the Outback Bowl in thrilling fashion over Georgia.

While he was the school’s all-time passing leader at the time, he was quickly passed up by the next guy on the list just a few years later.