Two played, one watched and learned during the 2011 season. Because of these numbers many will question the Spartans ability to match their success of the past two seasons.
Departing: Senior Kirk Cousins
A captain for three of his four seasons on the field, Cousins became the face of Michigan State Football the past two seasons. His leadership and on field abilities will be hard to replace when he looks to take his game to the NFL.
Players Returning: While there are a few names at the quarterback position only two really enter the picture when looking ahead to 2012.
Redshirt Sophomore Andrew Maxwell – With no career starts Maxwell will enter the spring as the clear No. 1 quarterback and no pressure to perform. The Midland, Michigan native has seen game action in each of the past two seasons having played in five games in 2010 and four games this past season. Overall Maxwell has completed 57 percent of his passes (29-for-51) for 294 yards and one touchdown.
Freshman Connor Cook – The Ohio native is untested but spent the 2011 season watching up close having been part of the travel squad. This experience will help push Cook forward as he'll be expected to be Maxwell's back-up in 2012.
Incoming: The Spartans made the choice to only bring in one quarterback for the class of 2012 and Tyler O'Connor gave his pledge in June. The Ohio native is known for being able to move the pocket and throw for a high completion percentage. Spartan fans should expect O'Connor to take the same path Cook did this past season and redshirt while making trips with the team learning how to prepare for game day.
Outlook: The reign of Kirk Cousins is official over as he exits as one of the Spartans all-time greats. What will be missed most is his leadership as the Spartans look to remain at the top of the Big Ten Conference.
Enter Maxwell who is known for having a strong arm and the ability to not turn the ball over. However, Maxwell will enter spring with no pressure and how performs in the season opener will show if he's ready for the pressure of being a starter at the college level.
Getting a top quarterback in the class of 2013 will be huge for continued success by the Green & White.