Scott Reed - Spartan Digest

Former Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook is a proven winner according to Spartans head coach Mark Dantonio.

Let the critics have their day when it comes to former Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook. The draft is over and while Cook may not have heard his name called when many expected, but it was called in the fourth round when the Oakland Raiders made the call taking the Spartans all-time career leader in wins. But Spartans head coach Mark Dantonio knows what the Raiders are getting.

One of the biggest questions during and following the 2016 NFL Draft was the fall of former Michigan State Spartans quarterback Connor Cook from a Day One or Day Two selection.

Cook had to wait until Saturday when the Oakland Raiders selected him with the 100-th pick in the fourth round.

While critics have had their say, Spartans head coach Mark Dantonio knows what Cook was for his program.

“Connor Cook is a proven winner,” Dantonio said. “He went 34-5 as a starter and won two Big Ten Championship rings. Connor played well on the big stage throughout his career while being named MVP of two Big Ten Championship Games (2013 and 2015) as well as the 2014 Rose Bowl. He played his best in the tight games and had the unique ability to make the guys around him better.

“Connor was very patient with his reads and displayed remarkable accuracy in critical situations. He remained cool under pressure, and he had the knack for making plays when the game was on the line. Most importantly, he was an outstanding game manager and leader. Connor consistently performed at a high level, and he gave us a chance to win every game.

“He has a big arm, quick release and good presence in the pocket. Connor can make all of the throws, and he delivers a catchable ball, with great placement. In addition, he has a short memory, which is a tremendous quality for a quarterback. Connor has the uncanny ability to shake off bad plays. He definitely has all of the tools to perform at the next level.

“Connor comes from the same system as (Washington Redskins quarterback) Kirk Cousins, so he has a solid foundation in a pro-style offense,” Dantonio continued. “He’s a quick study, so it won’t take him long to master the offense. Connor won’t be nervous; he will prove himself under center and earn the respect of his teammates. I’m sure the Oakland Raiders are very excited to have him.”  

Dantonio is not the only on singing the praises of Cook as quarterback coach Brad Salem gave his thoughts in a press release.

“I’m very excited for Connor’s future in the NFL and looking forward to seeing his dream begin in Oakland,” said Brad Salem. “It has been a pleasure to coach him and a joy to watch his success as a quarterback. He will continue to make clutch throws in big games. Connor is the latest Spartan gunslinger to take his talents to the NFL.”

A native of Hinckley, Ohio.  Cook finished his career ranked among MSU's all-time leaders in touchdown passes (first with 71), passing yards (first with 9,194), total offense (first with 9,403 yards), pass attempts (first with 1,170), 300-yard passing games (tied for first with 10), 200-yard passing games (tied for first with 26), passing yards per game (second at 213.8 ypg.), pass completions (third with 673), passing efficiency (fourth with 139.8 rating) and pass completion percentage (10th at .575). In 43 career games, he completed 58 percent of his passes (673-of-1170) for 9,194 yards, 71 touchdowns and 22 interceptions. His 71 touchdowns rank seventh in Big Ten history. Cook also tied a school record, shared with Cousins and Drew Stanton, by throwing for a touchdown pass in 16 straight games (streak started vs. Illinois on Oct. 26, 2013 and was snapped at Maryland on Nov. 15, 2014). Cook, who started a school-record 36 consecutive games at quarterback (streak began on Sept. 7, 2013 vs. South Florida and ended on Nov. 21, 2015 vs. Ohio State), had two winning streaks which rank among the longest by a Spartan starting quarterback in school history (12 from Nov. 15, 2014 to Oct. 24, 2015, is second longest; 11 from Oct. 5, 2013, to Aug. 29, 2014, is third longest; record: Al Dorow, 15 in 1950-51).

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