It's been called âThe World's Toughest Job Interview.â For six days at the NFL Combine (Feb. 22 â Feb. 28), college football's best will be measured, interviewed, tested, watched and analyzed by countless NFL coaches, general managers and scouts conducting all of their due diligence before the NFL Draft. To prepare, more than two dozen prospects have traveled to IMG Academy for six-plus weeks of Physical, Mental, Communication, Nutrition and Vision training with IMG Performance Institute specialists and on-field training with some of the game's top football coaches through the IMG Academy football program Football Academy.
He owns nearly every Michigan State quarterback record, yet Kirk Cousins nearly never made it to a D-I college. Now preparing for an NFL career, Cousins recently talked about what kept him motivated, the Michigan rivalry, how he would fix the BCS and his love of musicals.
Kirk Cousins on...
...breaking down the Hail Mary against Wisconsin:
We were going to run three receivers on the left and one right, but Wisconsin saw it and called a timeout. Coach Dantonio, who never gets involved in the offense, says to our offensive coordinator to flip it and run it to the right so I can roll to my strong side. My job is called â62 Dashâ which means the tailback is supposed to pin the defensive end, and I'm supposed to stay in the pocket then dash to my right to give my receivers as much time as possible to get to the end zone.
My job is to make sure it lands in that 10-yard region from about 55 yards away. I bought as much time as I could. I let the guy get as close as I could before I let it go. I saw it bounce up and Keith grab it, but had no idea how close it was to the end zone. I saw the reaction of my teammates and thought we were short. I thought I hadn't thrown it far enough.
I ran over to an ESPN cameraman - someone who had an unbiased opinion - and asked what he was hearing. He said, âI'm hearing that it's in.â I celebrated for like three seconds then stopped and went over to Russell (Wilson), Nick Toon and some other guys and just told them, âWe'll probably see you again.â
...how he'll remember his Michigan State career: We beat Michigan four times in a row, so that was huge being part of a team that never lost to Michigan. We won the Big Ten championship for the first time in 20 years. We won our first bowl game in more than a decade. Of course the Hail Mary was a major accomplishment. It's hard to beat that one.
I feel a great sense of completion and fulfillment. I got a scholarship at the last minute, basically as a leftover guy, and wasn't expected to do much. I probably accomplished more than anyone predicted, and that's what I want to continue to do. People kind of have you pegged however they want, but it's up to me to prove them wrong.
...his lack of recruitment in high school: I wasn't a guy who played varsity football as a sophomore, as most big-time college players did. My big chance to get recruited came as a junior and in the first quarter of the first game I broke my ankle. I had to use my senior year as my platform, and that put me way behind. I visited Princeton because I had no athletic scholarship offers until Michigan State offered in January. I committed before they could change their mind.
I don't want to paint the picture that I was always saying, âI'm a D-I quarterback. I'm going to play in the Big Ten and prove people wrong.â I was more like, âCan I play D-I? Am I good enough? Maybe I belong at a D-III school?â Even when I was first at Michigan State, I wondered if I belonged or if I would be transferring in a year. I had to lean on my faith and my family who always encouraged me. You just keep working as hard as you can and hopefully everything will work out.
...the Michigan State/Michigan rivalry: I think the rivalry has grown in recent years, especially since Coach Dantonio came in and made it a priority. From day one, he felt like it was important. I think it's more equally divided now. It was more Michigan State hating Michigan for a while, but Michigan saw us as the little brother while they had their rivalry with Ohio State. When Coach Hoke came in, he added a countdown clock for the Ohio State and Michigan State games, so I think the culture has changed.
...not having a Facebook profile: I'm the kind of person who if I had a profile, I'd be on it. I'd be checking people's statuses, looking at pictures, talking to people. With the life of a student-athlete, I knew if I wanted to succeed athletically and academically, I needed to make some sacrifices and Facebook would be one. It probably has hurt my social life a bit, but it was worth it in the long run. I was the kind of guy who drove from the stadium back to the apartment and didn't really go out and celebrate wins. I was pretty boring. I did break and get a Twitter. I've found some fun with it.
...changing the BCS system: I'd completely restructure it, but I still have never heard a perfect plan. I'd maintain the integrity of the bowl system and keep all of the bowl games so the teams that finish 8-4 still have something to shoot for. I'd change the BCS bowl games to make them more of a playoff format for the top six teams in the country. There will always be controversy because there will always be a seventh team, but it would be a move in the right direction.
...his love for musicals: My mom took us to musicals when I was little. âJosephâ with Donny Osmond was playing when I was like eight years old and we got to sit in the front row. My brother was also in a lot of musicals in high school. I could sing a little, but never got as into it as he did. In college, I would go to many of the musicals that came to East Lansing.
If the prototypical football players is someone who doesn't go to class, doesn't like music, doesn't focus on anything but football and girls, then, yeah, I'm probably not a prototypical football players. But I've come to find that more often than not, today's athletes are more well-rounded and do the right thing. I think I fit that mold.
...learning from IMG Academy football program Director Chris Weinke: I didn't realize the quality of the programs before I got here, so Coach Weinke was the main reason I came. I wanted a guy to train me who was current in the NFL and someone who played and/or coached in the NFL. I felt like he gave me the best balance of making me better, but not over-coaching me to make me confused.
Best quarterback ever: Joe Montana
One athlete you'd pay to see: Michael Jordan
Biggest superstition: I pray before every game and have some quiet time.
One band to play a private concert for you and friends: Jon Foreman and Switchfoot
One thing you cannot do: Play the piano. I enjoy and appreciate music probably because I can't do it.