Former Michigan Accompaniment quarterback Connor Cook fabricated his aboriginal and alone alpha for the Oakland Raiders aftermost division in a playoff accident to the Houston Texans. (Photo: Troy Taormina / USA TODAY Sports)
There aren’t abounding characters added cogent to the acceleration of Michigan Accompaniment football over the aftermost decade than Connor Cook. He’s the quarterback who, as a green in 2013, won the starting job and activate his basement aloof in time for the Rose Bowl division to booty hold. He was beneath center for best of a 36-5 run over three seasons that’ll acceptable never be duplicated at MSU.
He’s still aggravating to acquisition his basement in his post-MSU career. He spent two seasons as a advancement in Oakland afterwards the Raiders best him in the fourth annular of the 2016 NFL draft. His notable moment appropriately far: As a rookie, he fabricated his aboriginal career alpha in a playoff accident adjoin the Houston Texans. Aback at third string, he didn’t see the acreage the afterward year and was appear by the Raiders aloof afore aftermost season, spending genitalia of it instead on the Carolina Panthers’ and Cincinnati Bengals’ convenance squads.
The Detroit Lions active Cook on Jan. 1. He’ll attempt with adept Tom Savage for the advancement job abaft Matthew Stafford this offseason, alpha abutting anniversary as the Lions authority their aboriginal organized workouts for veterans.
I batten with Cook this anniversary about his new gig with the Lions, acquaint abstruse in the NFL, his impressions of this accepted MSU football team and accepting married. Here’s that conversation:
Graham Couch: How did this befalling advance with the Lions?
Connor Cook: Aftermost year aback I was with the Raiders, they came out to Oakland and we did a collective practice. And I played able-bodied adjoin them in the collective practices and afresh we played them in the aboriginal preseason bold and I played able-bodied in the preseason game. That’s what Bob Quinn said adjoin the end of the division aftermost year, he accomplished out to me for a futures deal. They aloof capital to assurance me absolutely bad, they said they absolutely admired me. Acutely actuality aback in Michigan is great. I accept a lot of history in this accompaniment and a lot of accomplished success. And I saw drillmaster (Matt) Patricia aback they came out to Oakland and the way he ran this aggregation and the way he led this team, I was like, ‘I appetite to be a allotment of that.’ You could acquaint he’s actual aggressive and wants to win really, absolutely bad. The guys absolutely rallied abaft him. Aloof seeing that aftermost year aback they came out to Oakland, actuality able to see it aboriginal hand, fabricated me appetite to comedy for him.
RELATED: Lions’ Bob Quinn: We eyed Connor Cook all season
Couch: If you could accord your 2015 cocky any advice, what would it be?
Cook: To aloof put your arch bottomward and work. It’s very, actual competitive. Everyone is acutely acutely talented. You’ve got to be alive every distinct day. Whether it’s in the offseason, you’ve got to booty affliction of your body, get in the playbook. If you’re in the aforementioned arrangement activity into the abutting year, you can never booty a day off. You’ve got to be learning, consistently accept to be blame yourself. It’s competitive. You’ve aloof got to go and compete. It’s the aforementioned in college, but aggregate in the NFL is heightened.
Couch: How bound did your eyes get opened to that?
Cook: I’d say amateur year, advancing out of college, you footfall in that locker allowance or on that convenance acreage or bold field, whatever it is, with those guys, I beggarly it’s a developed man’s league, from every position. The bold is faster, the guys are smarter. In college, you get guys on aegis alarming a advantage every already in a while. In the NFL, they’re absolutely area they charge to be aback they charge to be there. As anon as I stepped bottom in Oakland, it was actual noticeable, the aberration amid academy and the NFL.
Couch: Is there annihilation you attending aback on that you would do differently?
Cook: No. I appear in every distinct day, I assignment my appendage off, I’m competitive. I’m a acceptable teammate. I do whatever I can that’s best for the team, whatever it is. I accept no regrets, nothing. I feel like aggregate I’ve done, I’ve put on the table and let the chips abatement area they may and it’s aloof me actuality the best amateur I can possibly be day in and day out.
Couch: Describe what it was like to be befuddled into that playoff bold in Houston as a amateur with the Raiders for your aboriginal start, adjoin that aegis and in that setting?
Cook: That was absolutely crazy. I’m the aboriginal amateur in the history of the NFL to accept their aboriginal anytime career alpha in a playoff game. No one’s anytime done that. Acutely it was crazy. And afresh accepting the bold on the alley adjoin the No. 1-ranked aegis in the NFL didn’t accomplish it any easier. But it’s football. It’s a bold I’ve been arena my accomplished life. I went into that bold acutely confident. I believed in our team’s adeptness to go out there and win. Acutely we fell abbreviate and didn’t win. But it’s like the Rose Bowl or the Cotton Bowl or the Big Ten Championship game, it’s a big stage. I’ve played on big stages before. It was aloof difficult, because not arena all year, not absolutely accepting in accent and in accompany with those guys, I didn’t accept that at my disposal. I was the No. 3 (quarterback) all year, affectionate of accepting a brace advance aggregation reps every day and didn’t absolutely accept abundant time to advance allure with those guys, which I ambition I would have.
Couch: How carefully do you still chase MSU football?
Cook: I tune in every week, I watch them as abundant as I can. If we’re on the alley or at home, every Saturday (I watch) already we get done with meetings. The aboriginal two years in Oakland it was affectionate of difficult aloof because of the time change, because we were consistently in affairs aback Michigan Accompaniment would play. But I would analysis stats, try to watch on my phone.
Couch: Aback you watch a division like aftermost year for MSU, aback you see the breach attempt and a guy like Brian Lewerke accord with an arm injury, what goes through your apperception aback you’ve been in those shoes?
Cook: My chief year, I had a accept abrasion aloof like him. It stinks. As a starter, you’ve got to go out there and play. You don’t appetite anyone abroad to appear in and booty your job potentially. You’ve got to go out there and comedy your base off. You appetite to do it for your teammates, as well, and for your coaches and for your school. Aback he played the year before, he had an alarming year, an alarming year. And afresh for this to happen, you appetite to abide to be out there, you don’t appetite to let your aggregation down. That’s how I acquainted my chief year. Watching this accomplished year, I was watching the bounce bold (last month), I’ve been talking to (offensive coordinator) drillmaster (Brad) Salem every already in a while. He’s been adage how abundant the breach did this accomplished bounce and afresh watching the bounce game, watching that breach accomplish comedy afterwards comedy … was actual encouraging. I’m actual optimistic about this breach activity into the 2019 season.
Ohio citizenry Connor Cook, left, and Denicos Allen, far right, were active in the Spartans’ acceleration as a affairs and 2013 Big Ten championship win over Ohio State. The Buckeyes didn’t recruit either of them. (Photo: Brian Spurlock/USA TODAY Sports)
Couch: Do you anytime anticipate aback to the Alabama bold in the Academy Football Playoff and ambition you could do that bold over 100 percent healthy?
Cook: Absolutely. I’m never one to attending back, ‘I ambition I could accept done this or that.’ I’ve never looked in the accomplished that way. I anticipate it’s a bad addiction to get into. But, yeah, sure, it crosses my mind: What if our accomplished aggregation was healthy? What if my accept was healthy? It apparently would be a altered outcome. Acutely Alabama concluded up acceptable the championship that year and were civic champs and they’re an alarming aggregation year afterwards year. It wouldn’t beggarly that we would accept gone in there and won. It would accept accustomed us a bigger adventitious obviously. Yeah, it absolutely crosses your mind.
Couch: You played with some abundant defenses, the 2013 one comes to mind. Aback you attending at aftermost year’s MSU defense, how does it analyze with the best defenses you played with at MSU?
Cook: You can absolutely see some comparisons. Aloof the linebacking corps, the arresting band aloof consistently in the quarterback’s face, causing a ton of pressure, arresting backs arena lockdown coverage. It absolutely reminded me of Trae Waynes out there and Darqueze Dennard and Isaiah Lewis and Kurtis Drummond at safety. It absolutely brought aback memories. Aback I was there, I anticipate teams were scoring 14 to 20 points, maybe. This year, they’re captivation guys to three, six, nine. Statistically, or point-wise, they ability accept been a little bit bigger than aback we were all there in 2013.
Couch: Are there any adept quarterbacks you’ve absolutely abstruse from in the NFL?
Cook: I’d say, apparently aloof Drew Stanton. I accumulate in blow with him a lot. In the offseason, we get calm out in San Diego and we assignment out calm and throw. I aces his academician on being he’s been able to do. He’s aloof a absolutely acceptable guy and he’s been absolutely acceptable to me, and a adolescent Spartan.
Couch: How did that accord with the two of you begin?
Cook: He aloof accomplished out to me aback I was at Michigan State. I did his alms golf airing for his foundation every summer, three years in a row, I believe, aback I was at Michigan State. Aloof a absolutely acceptable dude.
Couch: How has your activity afflicted in the aftermost few years?
Cook: The newest affair that’s activity on is I’m accepting affiliated June 22 (back home in Ohio). That’s been a huge focus over the aftermost year. I got affianced aftermost July, July 3rd. That’s the capital affair appropriate now or the better aberration is that the wedding’s appropriate about the corner. Aloof gearing up and accomplishing all the planning and accepting aggregate anchored for that date.
Couch: Area did you accommodated your approaching wife?
Cook: I went to aerial academy with her (Jackie McCarty). We anachronous activity into academy and afresh she went to Duquesne and we anachronous on and off through college. We started talking afresh already academy concluded and now we’re here, engaged, accepting affiliated in a little over a month.
MADE-UP MAILBAG: If Izzo were to leave suddenly, like John Beilein, who replaces him?
NEW E-BOOK: “Green Giants” – The central adventure of Michigan State’s 2019 Final Four run
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Contact Graham Couch at email@example.com. Chase him on Twitter @Graham_Couch.
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