For the first time in a while, Michigan State has a little bit of a question mark at quarterback, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. With Connor Cook on his way to the NFL, the multi-year starter as the Spartans’ quarterback says big things are on the horizon for Michigan State’s upcoming quarterbacks.
“Just excitement, you’ve got Damion Terry, who can make the throws and make plays with his feet, you’ve got [Tyler O'Connor], who has a cannon for an arm,” Cook said while at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. “They are guys who know the offense, who aren’t going to go in and be unsure of themselves. They’ve proven themselves on one of the biggest stages they could have played on, so you know they are going to have confidence going in.”
Terry appeared in more games (10) than O’Connor in 2015 (6) behind Cook, but it was O’Connor who got more opportunities to throw the football in relief. O’Connor completed 54.2 percent of his 24 pass attempts for 133 yards and two touchdowns, with one interception. Terry attempted just seven pass attempts, and he completed two for 15 yards. Terry did show what he can do with his feet though, rushing 21 times for 68 yards, finishing with 12 more rushing yards than Cook and 20 more than O’Connor.
As noted by MLive.com, Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio is expected to open spring practices with O’Connor being labeled the No. 1 quarterback on the depth chart, but at this stage of the game it is far too early to suggest that will be the case by the time the fall comes around. A strong showing in spring practices by either O’Connor or Terry could set the tone heading to the summer and offer a more definitive glimpse as to who has the lead to be Connor’s successor on offense.
“They have all the ability, it’s all just up to them on how hard they want to push themselves and how hard they want to work,” Cook said.
Penn State’s Christian Hackenberg isn’t the only former Big Ten quarterback looking to set the record straight at the NFL Scouting Combine this week in Indianapolis. Michigan State’s Connor Cook has had to answer some questions as well with regard to the narrative surrounding him coming out of East Lansing. That narrative is one that suggests he either has an ego too big to be a respected leader (for whatever reason that may be) or that he just is not liked by his peers.
“I’ve talked to a lot of people about it,” Cook said when getting a chance to meet with the media at the combine, according to MLive.com. “We had a great group of leaders that were seniors. We had a leadership of council of 12 guys and they’d pick a different guy each week from that council to be a captain and I was selected for four games. Usually guys are only selected once throughout the season.
Two of the biggest stains on Cook’s profile seem to be his awkward acceptance of the MVP trophy following Michigan State’s victory over Iowa in the Big Ten championship game and his decision to pass on attending the Senior Bowl. Cook previously addressed the postgame trophy presentation, and he stood by his decision to skip the Senior Bowl and train with quarterback guru George Whitfield in San Diego. Remember, Cook was coming off a shoulder injury that he played through in the Big Ten title game (against Iowa) and College Football Playoff (against Alabama). Cook says his shoulder is in good shape now.
“There’re no issues, no problems and I’m going to go out there and sling it,” Cook said.
Experts seem to have a range of opinions on where Cook will ultimately be drafted. Like Hackenberg, a case a year ago was made Cook may have been one of the first quarterbacks selected in the 2016 NFL Draft, but he has been projected to go anywhere from the first to third rounds so far.
Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook will not participate in the Senior Bowl, the top college football all-star event on the calendar for NFL Draft hopefuls. Cook has reportedly declined to accept his invitation to the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama and Arkansas quarterback Brandon Allen will fill his spot on the Senior Bowl roster.
Cook is widely expected to be a first-round draft pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, and because he is coming back from a shoulder injury it was not a shock to see Cook choose not to participate in the Senior Bowl. He will have a chance to make up for his Senior Bowl absence in a pro day event later as well as the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis later this winter.
Allen will now have a chance to take advantage of the Senior Bowl opportunity. The Senior Bowl is the highest-regarded all-star event that will be attended to by members of every NFL Franchise, including many head coaches in addition to scouts. What happens in Senior Bowl practices can help some prospects show off some positives that may be overlooked otherwise.
Other quarterbacks scheduled to appear at the Senior Bowl are Jacoby Brissett of NC State, Jake Coker of Alabama, Jeff Driskel of Louisiana Tech, Kevin Hogan of Stanford, Cody Kessler of USC, Dak Prescott of Mississippi State and Carson Wentz of North Dakota State. Remember that only seniors are eligible to attend the Senior Bowl, so many of the quarterbacks in the NFL Draft pool like Cal’s Jared Goff, Ohio State’s Cardale Jones and Penn State’s Christian Hackenberg are not allowed to be extended an invitation.
While Alabama running back Derrick Henry was busy making room on his mantle for a plethora of awards Thursday night, including two player of the year awards (Maxwell Award and Walter Camp Player of the Year) and the Doak Walker Award (best running back), Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott will be making room for a Big Ten honor. Elliott was named this year’s winner of the Silver Football, presented to the Big Ten’s best player by The Chicago Tribune.
The vote for the award is determined by ballots submitted by each head coach of a Big Ten football program. This year’s vote included 13 ballots, as Kyle Flood did not submit a vote after being fired by Rutgers. Elliott received eight first-place votes from the Big Ten coaches. Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook received three first-place votes and four second-place votes to finish in second place. Iowa quarterback C.J. Beathard received a pair of first-place votes and finished in third.
Other players receiving votes for the Silver Football included Penn State defensive lineman Carl Nassib, Iowa defensive back Desmond King, Ohio State defensive lineman Joey Bosa, Northwestern defensive end Dean Lowry, Michigan quarterback Jake Rudock and Wisconsin linebacker Joe Schobert.
The Chicago Tribune has handed out a Silver Football every season since 1924. Elliott is the 18th player from Ohio State to win the award, which breaks a tie with Michigan for the most all-time Silver Football winners. Iowa is the only other program to have double-digit winners (10). Elliott is the second Ohio State player to win the award in the last four years, joining two-time Silver Football winner Braxton Miller (2012, 2013).
Fresh off being named most valuable player of the Big Ten Championship Game after leading his team to victory, Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook set Twitter ablaze with an apparent show of disrespect for the only two-time Heisman Trophy winner and Ohio State and Big Ten legend Archie Griffin. Griffin was on stage to hand the game’s MVP trophy to the Spartans quarterback, and Cook grabbed the trophy from Griffin’s hand and gave a weak hand shake as he prepared to answer questions from FOX Sports’ Joel Klatt on stage.
After the game and on-field celebration, Cook checked Twitter for reaction and congratulations from friends and followers, but instead he was buried in criticism for his apparent snub of Griffin. During on on-set postgame interview on Big Ten Network, Cook offered his apology and explanation for the bizarre moment, claiming to have just been caught in the moment and not realizing what he did or how it looked.
Cook also took to his Twitter account to address the criticism.
Cook and Michigan State will now prepare for the College Football Playoff, as it is all but official the victory in the Big Ten championship game Saturday night has locked the Spartans into the four-team field, whihc will be confirmed today. Cook completed 16 of 32 pass attempts for 191 yards and an interception against Iowa in the defensively gritty Big Ten championship game victory.