Originally written April 27, 2012 on Fox Sports Detroit:
EAST LANSING, Mich. -- It's a big weekend for Michigan State Spartans football. Michigan State has nine draft-eligible former players, including star quarterback Kirk Cousins. Airing at the same time as the Day 3 of the NFL Draft is Michigan State's annual spring football game. As Cousins prepares for the most important weekend in his young football career, new Spartans quarterback Andrew Maxwell was supposed to be doing the same. No, Maxwell isn't entering the draft sans experience (a la Matt Cassel). Maxwell was on schedule to take his first series of big-time reps with the first team. After an April 14 scrimmage, though, hopes of playing in the spring game, his first opportunity to start at Spartan Stadium, were dashed. Maxwell sustained a sprained right knee, which occurred as he fell awkwardly to the turf. Cue Connor Cook. To call the redshirt freshman's experience limited would be like calling Cousins "just an OK guy." Cook has been working with the second team all spring, but experience aside, he's ecstatic for the opportunity. "I'm very excited just to be going out and playing in front of 20,000 people or however many are going to be there at Spartan Stadium," Cook said. "I've never played in an actual game at Spartan Stadium yet, so just to suit up and go out there and have fun with your teammates is going to be a great deal." Maxwell isn't exactly a veteran himself -- in nine career games, he's completed 29 of 51 passes for 294 yards and a touchdown -- but the redshirt junior does have time on his side. He's coming into his fourth season on campus and was just getting into the flow of things before the injury. "I'm disappointed that I wasn't able to finish what we started here in the spring," Maxwell said. "Obviously, being in my first spring as a starter, I wanted to make strides in becoming a leader, becoming comfortable as a number one quarterback. And I feel like I did, up until the point I got hurt." All Maxwell can do now is work hard from the sidelines. "I think a big way that I can improve is just in my leadership -- interacting with guys, interacting with Connor, giving him tips and pointers," Maxwell said. "Obviously -- and I know this is clich -- I'll be getting a lot of mental reps. "I'll still have a headset, so I know the plays the being called, I know what to look for, I know what should be happening, and I've been just kind of locking those in the memory bank to use them in the future." That leaves Cook as the first-team quarterback and the second-team QB. Yes, he's going to be at the helm for both the Green and the White teams Saturday, something, again, he says he's looking forward to. "It is kind of strange going just out there and you're getting all the reps," Cook said. "It definitely wasn't what I expected. I came in here hoping to compete, working the twos (with the second team), all that stuff. "It's only making you better." Talk about going zero to 60 before the season even begins. Last season, as a redshirt, Cook piloted the scout team, meaning he was obligated to run everything BUT the Spartans offense. Now that he's integrating himself into the system, he's enjoying the extra reps. "All the reps really prepares you, especially going against the great defense that we have," he said. "And the mistakes that I would make in the first two weeks, I'd go back and watch them on film and then I'd see the same thing and wouldn't make the same mistake down the line in practice." So as Cousins anxiously awaits a phone call from his future employer, Maxwell will be sideline-bound yet again, this time watching Cook. "I'm just more disappointed because we put such a big emphasis around here on finishing things, and I was disappointed that I couldn't finish the spring," Maxwell said. As for Cook, he says he's nervous but thrilled for the opportunity. "I think everyone has butterflies," he said. "If you don't have butterflies, something might be wrong with you."
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