He came to East Lansing in 2011 as a three-star prospect out of Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, and he wasn't on everybody's wish list, but he enters the 2014 season as one of the top quarterbacks in the Big Ten after winning MVP honors in both the Big Ten championship game and Rose Bowl last season.
The Spartans have won 11 or more games three of the past four seasons and finished in the top 15 of the polls three times during that stretch. Yet they've never finished in the top 25 nationally of ESPN's recruiting rankings under coach Mark Dantonio, who takes immense pride in the developmental component of Michigan State's program.
"Coach D goes for the guys who are Michigan State-quality guys," Cook said.
All-America defensive end Shilique Calhoun is yet another example. He, too, wasn't highly recruited, but returns for his junior season after registering 14 tackles for loss, including 7.5 sacks, last season.
"There's a reason we call ourselves Spartan Dawgs, because we're all hungry, all hard-nosed, and we're going to come out swinging and never let up," Calhoun said.
So while All-America cornerback Darqueze Dennard, All-Big Ten linebacker Max Bullough and All-Big Ten safety Isaiah Lewis are all gone, the Spartans have proven that they know how to reload, which goes back to what has set this program apart under Dantonio. From running back Jeremy Langford and offensive tackle Jack Conklin on offense to defensive end Marcus Rush, cornerback Trae Waynes and safety Kurtis Drummond on defense, Michigan State just keeps churning out players, and most importantly, teams that can line up and play with anybody.
"The Rose Bowl was a big goal, but the national championship is still out there," Calhoun said.
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Braxton Miller's inability to throw during Ohio State's spring camp presented an opportunity for the Buckeyes to push the envelope in furthering the senior quarterback's education.
Miller's physical tools are well documented, so the Buckeyes had no problem shutting him down during March and April after offseason shoulder surgery. With a little creativity and some technology, the coaching staff turned the practice field into a classroom.
Miller participated in drills with a camera on his hat to monitor how he was reading defenses from behind the play and a microphone that recorded him calling out where he would deliver the ball. Offensive coordinator Tom Herman reviewed the film to grade his decision-making process.
After practices, Herman would assign Miller homework that included his own video review of other quarterbacks, including grading the live practice reps of redshirt freshman J.T. Barrett.
That Miller could have a productive spring without throwing is a tribute to both him and a support staff that did everything it possibly could to maximize his time while recovering from his shoulder surgery.
"You're talking about the Big Ten Player of the Year two years in a row," Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said. "I believe he gets it now, and he's a wonderful kid that wants to be great.