April 28, 2012
EAST LANSING, Mich. - Michigan State senior quarterback Kirk Cousins, who led the Spartans to back-to-back 11-win seasons, has been selected by the Washington Redskins in the fourth round (No. 102 overall) of the 2012 National Football League Draft Saturday, April 28.
Cousins, the winningest quarterback in school history, compiled a 27-12 record (.692) in 39 career starts, including a 22-5 mark over his final two seasons. He became only the second three-time captain in MSU history (Robert McCurry, 1946-48) and the first Spartan starting quarterback to win three-straight games over Michigan.
The 6-foot-3, 214-pound Cousins ranked among the Big Ten leaders in touchdown passes (tied for second with MSU single-season record 25), passing yards (second at 236.9 yards per game), passing efficiency (third with a 145.1 rating) and total offense (fifth at 234.1 ypg.). He also finished among the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision leaders in passing efficiency (30th) and total offense (49th). He completed 267-of-419 throws (.637) for 3,316 yards, 25 TDs and 10 interceptions. Cousins, a second-team All-Big Ten selection by the league's head coaches, had a school-record tying 11 200-yard passing games in 2011, including the last six games in a row. He was named one of 10 finalists for the Manning Award.
"Kirk Cousins is an outstanding leader, and he leads in a very natural way," MSU head coach Mark Dantonio said. "His football IQ is extremely high, so he does a great job at the line of scrimmage. He brings a lot of intangibles to the table: leadership, great attention to detail, work ethic, solid decision making, and a sense of humor. Kirk has a strong arm, pinpoint accuracy, and a quick release, so he has the ability to get the ball out quickly against pressure. He played in a pro-style offense here at Michigan State, so he should be able to adapt very quickly. Kirk played under center, took snaps in the shotgun and understands protections.
"I'm very excited for Kirk, and I believe that he'll have a tremendous career in the NFL. As Kirk went, Michigan State went, especially these last two seasons. So the Washington Redskins are getting a proven winner."
In his final game in a Spartan uniform, Cousins completed 27-of-50 throws for 300 yards, one score and three interceptions in MSU's 33-30 triple-overtime victory over No. 18 Georgia in the 2012 Outback Bowl. It marked his fifth career 300-yard passing game. His 7-yard TD strike to Keith Nichol midway through the fourth quarter gave MSU its first lead over the Bulldogs at 20-19. Trailing 27-20 with 1:55 remaining and no timeouts, Cousins engineered a 10-play, 85-yard drive, as the Spartans rallied to send the game into overtime on Le'Veon Bell's 1-yard TD run with 14 seconds left in regulation. He accounted for 84 of MSU's 85 yards on the scoring drive, connecting on 6-of-8 passes for 64 yards and scrambling for another 20 yards.
In the Big Ten Championship Game against Wisconsin, Cousins completed 22-of-30 passes for 281 yards and tied his career high with three TD passes - all to B.J. Cunningham (30, 7 and 44 yards) - while setting MSU's single-season record in the process. He also became MSU's all-time leader in completions with his 22 in the game. In addition, Cousins became just the third Spartan quarterback to throw for more than 3,000 yards in a season, joining Jeff Smoker (3,395 in 2003) and Drew Stanton (3,077 in 2005). He went 15-of-17 for 181 yards and two TDs in the first half against the Badgers.
He connected on 14-of-20 throws for 214 yards, two TDs and one interception in leading MSU to the outright Big Ten Legends Division title, thanks to a 31-17 victory at Northwestern. After a slow start (1-of-4 for 9 yards), Cousins completed 13 of his last 16 passes for 205 yards, including scoring strikes of 33 and 29 yards to Cunningham. He also rushed four times for 25 yards, including two scrambles (21 and 8 yards) for first downs.
In his last game at Spartan Stadium, Cousins completed 16-of-23 throws for 272 yards in the 55-3 win over Indiana on Senior Day. He also tied his career high with three TD passes (63 and 7 yards to Cunningham; and 47 yards to Keshawn Martin).
Cousins hit 18-of-31 throws for 260 yards and three TDs in MSU's 37-21 victory at Iowa, as the Spartans recorded their first win in Iowa City since 1989, ending a seven-game losing streak in Kinnick Stadium. He became just the second Spartan quarterback to eclipse the 8,000-yard career passing milestone. Cousins also tied his career high with three TD passes, including first-half scoring tosses of 6 and 22 yards to Cunningham and 17 yards to Edwin Baker.
Cousins completed 23-of-34 passes for 296 yards and two TDs in MSU's 31-24 victory over Minnesota. On the final drive of the first half, he went 6-of-8 passing for 66 yards, including a 2-yard TD toss to fullback Todd Anderson on a first-and-goal play. Cousins completed passes to four different receivers during that eight-play, 74-yard drive that lasted 52 seconds.
He became the winningest quarterback in Spartan history with MSU's dramatic 37-31 victory over No. 4 Wisconsin on Oct. 29. It marked his 22nd career victory, breaking the mark previously held by Smoker, who recorded 21 wins from 2000-03. In addition, Cousins was named Big Ten Co-Offensive Player of the Week after connecting on 22-of-31 throws for 290 yards and three TDs against the Badgers, including his 44-yard Hail Mary pass to Nichol on the final play of regulation. The three TD passes matched his career best. In addition to the game-winner to Nichol, Cousins completed scoring passes of 35 yards to Cunningham and 15 yards to Martin.
Cousins completed 20-of-32 passes for 250 yards in MSU's 10-7 victory at Ohio State, as the Spartans ended a seven-game losing streak against the Buckeyes and posted their first win in Columbus since 1998. His 33-yard TD strike to Cunningham in the back of the end zone gave MSU a 7-0 lead midway through the first quarter.
He completed 13-of-22 throws for 213 yards, one TD and one interception in MSU's 45-7 victory over Central Michigan.
Cousins set personal bests for pass completions (34) and pass attempts (53) at Notre Dame. His 329 passing yards are the most ever by a Spartan quarterback against the Irish (previous record: 327 yards by Drew Stanton, 2005). His 34 completions are second-highest single-game total in MSU history (school record: 35 by Jeff Smoker vs. Ohio State, 2003) while his 53 attempts are fifth-best figure in school history.
Cousins connected on 18-of-22 throws for 222 passing yards in the 2011 season opener against Youngstown State, including an 18-yard TD strike to Cunningham late in the third quarter that gave MSU a 21-6 lead. He completed his first six pass attempts for 114 yards.
The Holland, Mich., native ranks first in MSU history in pass completions (723), passing yards (9,131), TD passes (66), passing efficiency (146.1), 200-yard passing games (26) and total offense (9,004 yards). He also is listed among MSU's all-time leaders in pass attempts (second with 1,128), completion percentage (second at .641; 723 of 1,128) and passing yards per game (third at 202.9). Cousins also ranks among the Big Ten's all-time Top 10 in completion percentage (tied for sixth), passing efficiency (seventh), passing yards (10th) and TD passes (tied for 10th).
Washington was the last team Cousins expected to call because it selected Baylor's Robert Griffin III with the second overall pick.
"I was shocked," Cousins said. "I hadn't talked to them in the process at great length and didn't know they were interested, but when I saw a Virginia number on my cell phone, I knew it was a possibility. When I answered, Coach () Shanahan told me, `I can't pass you up and have to pick you.
"It's a unique situation with Washington picking Robert No. 2 overall and I didn't expect it, but Coach Shanahan knows quarterbacks. He worked with Steve Young and John Elway, and I think he held getting me in the fourth round was a steal. I think Robert is in their immediate plans and the long-term hope for their fan base, but they wouldn't have selected me unless they believed in me. Now it's up to me to learn the playbook and support Robert, and when I get my opportunity to play, Robert will support me."
There wasn't enough time, Cousins said, to find Washington's rationale behind drafting two high-profile quarterbacks.
"They're so busy with the draft, our sole conversation so short," Cousins said. "He didn't have a chance to explain every detail. I'm sure in the next 24 hours I'll be able to speak with their quarterbacks coach about it. They're trying to get value at ever draft pick and I'm sure they had a higher grade on me than where I was going to be picked. In the NFL you have to have a backup who have play effectively and I hope to be that player."
Cousins wasn't disappointed about where he was selected
"I was told second or third but even the day before you know in the back of your head that anybody can fall and anybody can move up," he said. "I kept an open mind and would be excited wherever I ended up, and it happened in the fourth round. I'm excited for opportunity and have to make most of it by raising my level to that of a NFL quarterback.
"Here's what I know about Washington: It's a passionate football city with a fantastic fanbase. I know it's where Sammy Baugh played and I'm going to have to learn the words to their fight song, Hail to the Redskins."