April 28, 2009
Video: MSU QB's pushed to excellence by each other
EAST LANSING - Both Kirk Cousins and Keith Nichol proved over the course of the spring that they were each ready to step into the role of starting quarterback vacated by Brian Hoyer, who signed a free agent contract with the New England Patriots one day after Nichol and Cousins each threw for 357 yards and 4 touchdowns in the annual Green and White Game.
But even though the two sophomores from West Michigan displayed talent, moxie, and were each at times in large part responsible for the momentum generated by each squad, neither was able to clearly prove that he was the best option at quarterback for Michigan State next fall.
While a lack of separation between the two sophomores could be viewed as a negative by some, those within the Michigan State football program see the competition between Cousins and Nichol being wholly positive.
Both Nichol and Cousins agree that the competition has been a positive experience.
"It's great for our football team," Nichol said. "That is what has to happen for a team to win a Big Ten championship. You have to have QB completion. You have to have competition everywhere and I think we have that at almost every position. It is just highlighted because quarterbacks get highlighted a little bit. But I think a lot of positions like our running backs, our wide receivers, have competitions going on.
I think our team is pushing each other. Kirk has pushed me beyond any level I thought I could play and I hope that I have done the same for him."
Since he arrived at Michigan State in the Class of 2007, Cousins has had to scrap for positioning in the Spartan quarterback rotation. The lesser known of two quarterbacks signed by Michigan State in Dantonio's first recruiting class, Cousins leapfrogged Nick Foles on the depth chart last spring, which in part led to the latter's decision to transfer to Arizona. The competition Cousins had with Foles as a freshman was integral in his development as a young football player. But that competition was nowhere near as intense as the one between Cousins and Nichol.
"We can't relax for a moment," said Cousins. "We have to keep striving to be the best we can be and that is why coach Dantonio brought Keith in or he wants multiple quarterbacks here with the same year. He wants them to be pushed. He wants them to feel that pressure from one another. When I committed here I expected that. I don't expect to go play in the Big Ten and walk into any situation. I don't want to back into any situation."
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