Originally written on isportsweb.com  |  Last updated 10/26/11

EAST LANSING, MI - SEPTEMBER 05: Quarterback Kirk Cousins #8 of the Michigan State Spartans warms up prior to the start of the game against the Montana State Bobcats on September 5, 2009 at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing, Michigan. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)

Michigan State quarterback Kirk Cousins has been named one of the 16 best and brightest collegiate college football players by being named to this year’s National Football Foundation’s National Scholar-Athlete Class. Players selected win $18,000 postgraduate scholarships.

Cousins continues to add to a résumé that will ultimately end up as one of the best the Spartans have ever seen. Cousin’s continues to excel on the field. He was named captain for the third time becoming just the second three-time captain in school history. Cousins further expanded his pristine reputation in the last two weeks by becoming the first Spartan quarterback to beat Michigan three times in a career. Cousins followed that up with a 44-yard Hail Mary to Keith Nichols against an undefeated Wisconsin Badgers that vaulted him into sole possession of the title of winningest quarterback in school history.

Cousins added to a historic career with an unforgettable pass against Wisconsin.

Yes, Cousins has done great things on the field, but this about more than that. Cousins is practicing what he preaches, and that’s admirable. Cousins can often be heard imploring that need for athletes to set good examples and be role models. It’s great to hear someone speak out and say something, but it’s another thing to see them do it. Cousins, a Kinesiology major, has a 3.68 GPA and has qualified for the Dean’s List or the President’s List every semester of his college career. The $18,00 scholarship gives these athletes a chance to pursue a higher education as a reward for their achievements on and off the field

“This year’s class is one of the best ever in the 53-year history of the program,” said NFF President & CEO Steven J. Hatchell. “Their average GPA is a remarkable 3.81, setting a modern day record for the NFF National Scholar-Athlete Awards. Without exception, they are some of the finest student-athletes to ever set foot on the gridiron, and they serve as a prime example of football’s unique ability to build leaders. Ensuring that they continue their education with an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship is a privilege, and we know that they have only begun to reach their potential.”

To go with the great marks in school, Cousins received the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award and Michigan State’s Clarence J. Underwood, Jr. Sportsmanship Award in 2010. On and off the field Michigan State’s quarterback has given young fans an athlete they can look up too. As a matter of fact, even other athletes should try to immolate the path Cousins has taken.

“The 2011 National Scholar-Athlete Class represents all that is right about college football,” said NFF Chairman Archie Manning, whose sons Peyton (Campbell winner) and Eli were NFF National Scholar-Athletes in 1997 and 2003, respectively. “They have displayed the same competitive fire to win in the classroom that has distinguished them as some of the best football players in the country. In addition, each has found time to give back with an impressive list of leadership roles in their respective communities. Our goal in recognizing them is that future football players will be inspired to follow their example.”

For three years Cousins has been the face of the Michigan State football team. Through the ups and downs of the field the program has always been able to rely on Cousins to set a positive image, while still keeping a winning edge. Cousins may be a once in a student-athlete for Michigan State, and the Spartans are going to have a hard time replacing him.

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