It may not be the Big Ten title that he just was handed, but for Michigan State Spartans quarterback Kirk Cousins, it’s still gotta feel pretty good to get his hands on something for his efforts.
On Thursday night, the humble senior from Holland, MI was awarded the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award for the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision. The honor is presented annually through a nationwide vote of FBS coaches, national football media, and NCAA fans and distinguishes the most outstanding senior student-athlete.
“It’s a special award, one I think that when you look at the other finalists, is what is really humbling,” Cousins told reporters. “When you look at a great candidate like Drew Butler from Georgia, guys in the military academies who were also finalists, I guess it shows the kind of company I’m able to be part of and it is very humbling.”
The CLASS Award, which is an acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in Schools, was bestowed upon Cousins at the Outback Bowl luncheon that featured members fro both Michigan State and Georgia. Criteria for the award include noted achievements in four areas of excellence: community, classroom, competition and character.
Cousins, who is a highly-noted public speaker, has a 3.684 grade-point average and graduated from MSU with a degree in kinesiology earlier this month. On the field, he is a four-time Academic All-Big Ten selection and only the second three-time captain in the 115-year history of Michigan State football.
It was at the annual Big Ten Media Day luncheon earlier this year before the start of the season that Cousins gave his now-legendary speech where he spoke eloquently on a range of topics from paying college athletes a salary, to the expectations off the field for NCAA talents as well.
“I told my dad that when the season ended and I was up for a few season-ending type community awards that weren’t just (for playing) on the field, I felt like the speech would help me become a finalist,” Cousins said of the speech. “And obviously my play on the field after the speech enabled me to be in the running.
“I think it was very important because I do so many speeches, but they don’t receive the focus. When you are speaking at a youth group at a church, it’s not going to have the attention of when you are speaking at a Big Ten luncheon. I think that catapulted some of the attention through the season.”
Cousins set the all-time school records for touchdown passes (65) and completions (696) this year, passing former Spartan QB Jeff Smoker. The award-winner also completed 64 percent of his passes while at the University, marking the best percentage rate in school history and third best in Big Ten history.
Head coach Mark Dantonio spoke about Cousins to the media shortly after his player received the award and didn’t hold back on his thoughts concerning the winningest quarterback in MSU history (26-12).
“He represents the ideal scholar-athlete,” Dantonio said. “Throughout his career, Kirk has pursued excellence in the classroom and on the playing field. He’s made a tremendous effort to have a positive impact in the community as a whole.”
You can follow MSU Examiner, Michael Ferro, at twitter.com/MichaelFerro.