Kirk Cousins: Dantonio made MSU players believe

The Detroit News

Former Michigan State quarterback Kirk Cousins shares insight of the Spartans football program transformation under Mark Dantonio in a first-person piece on Derek Jeter's website The Players Tribune.

The Washington QB vividly describes his first encounter in 2007 with an unnamed person, who was imbued with enthusiasm despite the team's 1-7 Big Ten record the previous season and the school's reputation as a basketball school.

"The Freshman," which is the title of the nearly 2,000-word piece, is assumed to be Cousins, whom Dantonio recruited as his quarterback, but is actually the coach. Click here to read the article.

Michigan State quarterback Kirk Cousins

Cousins recalls how Dantonio made it a point to make contact with 100-plus players, not just in a formal way either.

"He would ask all of these questions," Cousins writes. "I swear, with every guy on the team, he’d sit down next to them, and he’d just … ask stuff.

"He’d ask about everything. He’d ask about their family (“How are things at home?”) … about their love life (“You seeing anyone?” — and if they were: “How’s that relationship?”)

"And again: We’re talking every guy."

Cousins also recalls his impressions of two key players in MSU's  turnaround.

On Shilique Calhoun, Cousins writes: "Dude was a terror — working his way through our starting offensive linemen, over and over, and getting to the quarterback. As in — getting to me. I had a red jersey on, thankfully, so he couldn’t hit me. But it seemed like he was in that backfield on almost every down. Day, after day, after day, in practice, no matter what wrinkle our line threw at him — Shilique was able to solve it, and get past them, and find his way to the quarterback."

On Connor Cook: "Connor’s got 'it.' I’m not even sure what 'it' is, but, yeah — Connor has it. He makes all of the throws. He manufactures plays with his legs. He handles protections. He has great command. From a scouting perspective, Connor’s the total package."