Now that we have finished up all of the “Top 10” for each position on the hardwood, it is now time that we focus our attention to the gridiron. First up we have everyone’s favorite position, quarterback. Michigan State Football is not known for producing great quarterbacks, but there have been enough quarterbacks that have made an impact that we were able to put together a decent list. So, for all you football and MSU fans out there, check out the list of the best quarterbacks in the history of MSU football below:
10. Dan Enos (1987-1990)
Enos, now the head coach at Central Michigan University, is ranked fourth all-time in completion percentage in MSU history, completing 62.1 percent in his two years as a starting quarterback. Also, Enos ranks 12th in passing yards with 3,837, and 11th in career yards with 4,301.
9. Ed Smith (1976-1978)
In 1978, Smith led the Spartans to a share of the Big Ten Championship. During this season Smith threw for 2,226 yards, 20 touchdowns and only eight interceptions. Smith ranks fifth in passing touchdowns in MSU history with 43, and he ranks sixth in passing yards in MSU history with 5,706 yards.
8. Dave Yarema (1982-1986)
Dave Yarema ranks in the top 10 in many MSU passing categories such as: passing yards (fifth, 5,809 yards), passing touchdowns (fourth, 44 touchdowns), interceptions (tied for third, 33), completion percentage (seventh, 60.5 percent), and passing efficiency (eighth, 134.4). Yarema had his best season as a senior where he passed for 16 touchdowns and threw for 2,581 yards.
7. Bill Burke (1996-1999)
The former Michigan State southpaw was the first ever quarterback in MSU history to throw for 400 yards in a game when he did it in 1999 in a 34-31 victory against that team in Ann Arbor. Burke ranks amongst the top Spartan quarterbacks in every major category, including touchdowns, where he ranks third with 46 in his career.
6. Tony Banks (1994-1995)
Tony Banks has had the best NFL career of all MSU quarterbacks in recent history, and honestly, that is the only reason he made this list. Usually I don’t do these lists by the athletes career outside of East Lansing, but I felt that someone had to represent MSU at the professional level, and Banks was the guy. Banks didn’t have a great career at MSU, only playing for two years, as he threw 20 touchdown in his career (10th all-time) with 21 interceptions, but Banks was the first quarterback drafted in the 1996 NFL Draft when he was selected by the St.Louis Rams in the second round. During his career in the NFL, Banks threw for over 15,000 yards and threw 77 touchdowns and 73 interceptions. He played for the Rams, Ravens, Redskins, and Texans during his 10-year career.
5. Brian Hoyer (2004-2008)
Before there was Cousins, there was this man right here. Brian Hoyer was not exceptionally good at one area of the quarterback position, but he was good enough to get the job done. Hoyer ranks fourth in passing yards in MSU history with 6,159 yards, and he ranks seventh in career passing touchdowns with 35. He is also one of only four quarterbacks in MSU history to pass for over 4,000 yards in a season, and Hoyer had 13 career 200-yard passing games, which ranks third MSU history.
4. Jeff Smoker (2000-2003)
With one of the most ironic names in sports history, Jeff Smoker was apart of one of the most high-powered offenses in MSU history. Smoker was the quarterback who was lucky enough to have the services of Charles Rogers during his college stint, and he took full advantage of Mr.Roger’s talent. Smoker is second all-time in passing yards in MSU history with 8,932, and second in passing touchdowns with 61. Nobody in MSU history threw more passes than Smoker, as he threw 1,150 and completed 685. For all of you U of M fans who may have forgotten about one of the biggest plays in MSU history, completed by Smoker, I did the honor of giving you guys the link so that you can reminisce and re-live this great time in Spartan football history.
3. Drew Stanton (2002-2006)
Drew Stanton was easily the most exciting quarterback to watch in MSU history, as he could run and throw the ball with the best of them in college football during his time at MSU. Stanton ranks in the top ten in all major quarterback categories, and has the best completion percentage in MSU history completing 64.2 percent of his passes. Also, Stanton ranks 20th in MSU history in rushing attempts with 332 carries and he racked up 1,512 yards on those carries. Stanton is the best play-maker at the quarterback position that has come through East Lansing, and even though he has not had a great NFL career, his contributions on the football field at Michigan State will never be forgotten.
2. Earl Morrall (1953-1955)
Who? If you have never heard of Earl Morrall before reading this list don’t feel too bad because I hadn’t either until I started to do research for this article. Earl Morrall played football during the era where running the ball was like breathing, running was the game. While his numbers may not seem like “top 10” caliber numbers, you must remember that you have to place him within his context when evaluating his play. Morrall is another on of those players that I couldn’t ignore his post-college success, and honestly, that is the reason why he is so high on this list. First, while at MSU, Morrall threw for over 2,000 yards in his career, which during the period in which he played was VERY good. Also, he is the third most efficient quarterback in MSU history with a rating of 140.5. He led the Spartans to a Rose Bowl victory in 1956 over UCLA, finishing off a 9-1 season for the Spartans. Morrall only threw 13 touchdowns in his career at MSU, with 16 interceptions, but that was enough for the 49ers to make him with the second overall pick in the 1956 NFL Draft. During his time in the NFL Morrall was a three time Super Bowl winner, two time Pro Bowl selection, he won the NFL Comeback Player of the Year award in 1972, and he was named the NFL MVP is 1968. Morrall was clearly the best Spartans quarterback of all-time when you look at his whole career, and unfortunately for me, I wasn’t able to watch him play.
1. Kirk Cousins (2007-2012)
Kirk Cousins, b.k.a Mr. Perfect, is the most productive quarterback in Michigan State history. Cousins is on top of the list on several MSU passing records. He is the leader in pass completions (723), passing yards (9,131), passing touchdowns (66), and passing efficiency (146.1). Also, no Spartan quarterback has won more games than Cousins (27), and he is tied for sixth in Big Ten history in completion percentage (64. 1 percent). While all of these stats are impressive, Cousins most impressive stat during his tenure at Michigan State is that he has NEVER lost to that team in Ann Arbor as a starter. When you come to Michigan State that has to be one of your main objectives, and not many have shown the winning attitude quite like Cousins. Aside from football, Cousins is a class act man. He is the type of guy that you would want your kids to be like. From academics, to athletics, to the community, Cousins was one of the most productive players in MSU history on and off the field.