Connor Cook, quarterback
It felt wrong to not have a player from the Dantonio era so why not the quarterback who had the most success, broke all the records and led Michigan State to its most successful run in decades? We could have included a defensive player like Darqueze Dennard, but Connor Cook had the biggest impact of any player from 2007-2019.
Cook may be Michigan State’s most impactful player this century.
Not only has Cook set all-time passing records for touchdowns and yardage, but he’s also the winningest quarterback in program history. In fact, he had a 34-5 career record with wins in the Rose Bowl and Cotton Bowl and an appearance in the College Football Playoff.
The start of the Cook era wasn’t the best as he took over for a terrible quarterback situation in the Buffalo Wild Wings bowl in 2012, helping lead the Spartans past TCU. He didn’t win the starting job from day one in 2013, but it didn’t take long for him to stand out as the Spartans’ No. 1 quarterback.
Cook helped lead the Spartans to a 13-1 overall record in 2013, passing for 2,755 and 22 touchdowns as they made the Rose Bowl for the first time since 1987 and beat Stanford.
Things only got better for Cook as he passed for 3,214 yards and 24 touchdowns in 2014, leading MSU to another double-digit win season and a Cotton Bowl win over Baylor. He followed that up with 3,131 yards and 24 touchdowns in 2015 with a playoff appearance and 12-2 record as a senior. He was also ninth in Heisman Trophy voting.
Cook finished his career with 9,194 yards and 71 touchdowns and 34 wins in three seasons, making him the best quarterback of the modern era, topping Kirk Cousins.