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Monday, August 22, 2011
Big Ten rankings: No. 6, Kirk Cousins

By Brian Bennett

The final half-dozen of our preseason player rankings, based on past performance and potential impact for the 2011 season, kicks off with ...

No. 6: Kirk Cousins, QB, Michigan State, Sr., 6-3, 205

Kirk Cousins
Kirk Cousins completed almost 67 percent of his passes last season.
2010 numbers: Completed 226 of 338 passes (66.9 percent) for 2,825 yards and 20 touchdowns, with 10 interceptions. Also ran for one score.

Why he's here: If public speaking were a measurement in these rankings, Cousins would be the runaway winner. Yet Cousins' impressive gift of gab shows you what kind of leader he must be in the huddle and the locker room. There's not a quarterback in the league who's more solid and dependable than the fifth-year senior and third-year starter, though it would be a disservice to describe him merely as a steady game manager. Cousins can put up great stats, like when he completed 20 of 29 passes for 269 yards and three touchdowns in last year's win over Wisconsin, or when he delivered a 331-yard, three-touchdown game against Northwestern. We'd like to see the interception total decrease, and Cousins said this summer he's been working on not trying to force things when plays break down. But of all the starting quarterbacks in the Big Ten this season, Cousins probably has the least amount of question marks attached to his name.