Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook chose to return to the Spartans for his senior season though he might have been a first-round pick in the 2015 draft, which lacks depth at the position behind top prospects Jameis Winston (Florida State) and Marcus Mariota (Oregon).
When he exits next season, Cook likely will be a first-rounder and could be the first quarterback off the board.
"Every year he's played, he's gotten better," Spartans running back Jeremy Langford said at the combine. "He's gotten smarter, become more of a leader. He controls the offense, controls situations. He doesn't turn the ball over. That's things you want in a quarterback."
The 6-foot-4, 218-pound Cook finished last season with 3,214 yards, 24 touchdowns and just eight interceptions. The only knock at times is his accuracy as he completed just 58.1 percent, but if that improves, he could be an early first-round pick next year because of the extra value teams place on quarterbacks in the draft.
"He's a leader and Michigan State has a lot of animals on its team, and he's one," Michigan State wide receiver Keith Mumphery said. "He got us going a lot. When we needed that spark, he was there. He makes some throws. When I tell you he can sit back in that pocket and pick you apart, he can do it."
Cook showed tremendous poise in the Spartans' 42-41 Cotton Bowl win over Baylor, helping the team overcome a 20-point deficit by throwing two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, including one to Mumphery with 17 seconds left.
"He's got the smarts, he's got the body size, he's got the arm," receiver Tony Lippett said. "I just feel like he'd be a great player, a great leader for a team that can bring a lot to the table."