Foster: Drew Stanton is one thriving Spartans' QB grad

Terry Foster Detroit News

East Lansing — Welcome to Quarterback U where the most productive quarterbacks in the NFL come from.

Don't believe me? The statistics don't lie. Quarterbacks from Michigan State have produced more yards in the NFL this season (3,039) than any other school in the country. Spartans have also passed for 17 touchdowns and seven interceptions.

Spartan quarterbacks have replaced superstars for now and threaten to replace them forever. That is the case in Washington D.C. where Kirk Cousins replaced Robert Griffin III and had people believing he is the guy for the future until a bad Thursday night game against the New York Giants.

Spartan quarterbacks have stopped movements. The Johnny Manziel marketing campaign was set to hit full throttle. The problem is Johnny Football cannot supplant mild-mannered Brian Hoyer, who continues to hold onto the Browns' starting job and has been the better man.

A former Spartan leads the league in passing yards. Nick Foles could not cut it at Quarterback U and transferred to Arizona where he got playing time and a chance to show the NFL he could play.

Stanton stands out

But my favorite former Spartan is Drew Stanton who addressed the team prior to Michigan State's 56-14 victory Saturday against Wyoming at Spartan Stadium.

He played at Farmington Hills Harrison and his wife Kristin follows me on Twitter. He was also part of the failed Matt Millen era. Millen drafted Stanton in the second round (43rd overall) in 2007.

He started just four games in four seasons with the Lions and had more interceptions (9) than touchdowns (5).

But here is why Stanton is cool. He tore his ACL at MSU on a punt return. How many quarterbacks can say that?

He also says things like this:

"If you have to say you are tough then you are not tough."

Does he feel partly responsible for the current Spartans success that included three 11-wins or more seasons, a Big Ten and a Rose Bowl title?

Nope. He gave all the credit to coach Mark Dantonio who has built a new atmosphere.

Stanton came here under Bobby Williams and played for John L. Smith. He gave both men praise, especially Smith who you could make a case ruined Stanton more than helped him.

He is a blue collar kid who is now a blue collar family man that is still doing it the same way with a bit more polish. He replaced injured starting quarterback Carson Palmer for the Arizona Cardinals and threw two third- quarter touchdowns to keep the team unbeaten.

And he did it in typical Stanton fashion. He got rocked by the opposing defense, shook out the cobwebs and shook the San Francisco 49ers until they cried uncle.

Stanton has a win-by-any-means-necessary approach. It played out in college and now it is playing out in the pros, although a little later in his career.

Stanton is not always pretty on the field. He grunts and grinds and tries to make magic happen.

"That is how I am and that is how I was raised," Stanton said. "You have to be smarter as you get older. You have to be wiser in what you can do in the NFL.

"Those guys are a lot bigger, stronger and faster than I am. I definitely had to change my style of play, but overall you can't change the type of person you are. That style, right, wrong or indifferent comes out on the field."


Stanton is 30 years old and now he passes along advice to others. He is in the ear of current MSU quarterback Connor Cook, who is more talented and has a chance to become a first-round draft pick should he decide to leave school.

Cook didn't explode like he is capable. He was 8-for-12 and passed for 126 yards and two touchdowns against the Cowboys. We have not seen a lot of Cook the past two weeks, because he was not needed for the powerful Spartans. We will see a lot of him next week against Nebraska, because it will be the Spartans first true test since the Oregon game.

The Spartans would be smart to listen to a wise guy like Stanton who went through the school of hard knocks to make a spot in the NFL.

"I don't have all the answers for them, but hopefully some of the bumps I went through down the road I can help him out," Stanton said. "You try to form relationships with guys and reach out to them. You try to be a resource.

"Everybody has ups and downs especially at this position."