EAST LANSING, Mich. â€“ Four Michigan State seniors â€“ quarterback Kirk Cousins, wide receiver B.J. Cunningham, wide receiver Keshawn Martin and safety Trenton Robinson â€“ along with juniors (defensive tackle) Jerel Worthy and (running back) Edwin Baker have accepted invitations to participate in the National Football Leagueâ€™s 2012 Scouting Combine, scheduled for Feb. 22-28 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Ind. The six participants are the most since the Spartans sent seven players to the NFL Scouting Combine in 2000.
The NFL Scouting Combine (National Invitational Camp) is organized and operated by National Football Scouting, Inc. NFL Network and NFL.com will provide more than 50 hours of live coverage from Lucas Oil Stadium, beginning Thursday, Feb. 23. More than 600 NFL personnel, including head coaches, general managers, scouts and medical staff representing all 32 teams, will attend the Scouting Combine and evaluate the nationâ€™s top 328 college players eligible for the upcoming 2012 NFL Draft through on-field drills, physical testing, psychological exams, as well as formal and informal interviews.Â
Cousins, the winningest quarterback in school history, compiled a 27-12 record (.692) in 39 career starts, including a 22-5 mark over his final two seasons. He became only the second three-time captain in MSU history (Robert McCurry, 1946-48) and the first Spartan starting quarterback to win three-straight games over Michigan.
The 6-foot-3, 205-pound Cousins ranked among the Big Ten leaders in touchdown passes (tied for second with MSU single-season record 25), passing yards (second at 236.9 yards per game), passing efficiency (third with a 145.1 rating) and total offense (fifth at 234.1 ypg.). He also finished among the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision leaders in passing efficiency (30th) and total offense (49th). He completed 267-of-419 throws (.637) for 3,316 yards, 25 TDs and 10 interceptions. Cousins, a second-team All-Big Ten selection by the leagueâ€™s head coaches, had a school-record tying 11 200-yard passing games in 2011, including the last six games in a row. He was named one of 10 finalists for the Manning Award.
â€œKirk Cousinsâ€™ football IQ is extremely high,â€ MSU offensive coordinator Dan Roushar said. â€œHis passion and determination are very high, and heâ€™s motivated to be successful within the team concept. When reviewing cut-ups of our passing game, Kirk displayed pinpoint accuracy last season. He routinely put the ball in places where only our receivers could catch it.â€
In his final game in a Spartan uniform, Cousins completed 27-of-50 throws for 300 yards, one score and three interceptions in MSUâ€™s 33-30 triple-overtime victory over No. 18 Georgia in the 2012 Outback Bowl. It marked his fifth career 300-yard passing game. His 7-yard TD strike to Keith Nichol midway through the fourth quarter gave MSU its first lead over the Bulldogs at 20-19. Trailing 27-20 with 1:55 remaining and no timeouts, Cousins engineered a 10-play, 85-yard drive, as the Spartans rallied to send the game into overtime on Leâ€™Veon Bellâ€™s 1-yard TD run with 14 seconds left in regulation. He accounted for 84 of MSUâ€™s 85 yards on the scoring drive, connecting on 6-of-8 passes for 64 yards and scrambling for another 20 yards.
In the Big Ten Championship Game against Wisconsin, Cousins completed 22-of-30 passes for 281 yards and tied his career high with three TD passes â€“ all to B.J. Cunningham (30, 7 and 44 yards) â€“ while setting MSUâ€™s single-season record in the process. He also became MSUâ€™s all-time leader in completions with his 22 in the game. In addition, Cousins became just the third Spartan quarterback to throw for more than 3,000 yards in a season, joining Jeff Smoker (3,395 in 2003) and Drew Stanton (3,077 in 2005). He went 15-of-17 for 181 yards and two TDs in the first half against the Badgers.
He connected on 14-of-20 throws for 214 yards, two TDs and one interception in leading MSU to the outright Big Ten Legends Division title, thanks to a 31-17 victory at Northwestern. After a slow start (1-of-4 for 9 yards), Cousins completed 13 of his last 16 passes for 205 yards, including scoring strikes of 33 and 29 yards to Cunningham. He also rushed four times for 25 yards, including two scrambles (21 and 8 yards) for first downs.
In his last game at Spartan Stadium, Cousins completed 16-of-23 throws for 272 yards in the 55-3 win over Indiana on Senior Day. He also tied his career high with three TD passes (63 and 7 yards to Cunningham; and 47 yards to Keshawn Martin).
Cousins hit 18-of-31 throws for 260 yards and three TDs in MSUâ€™s 37-21 victory at Iowa, as the Spartans recorded their first win in Iowa City since 1989, ending a seven-game losing streak in Kinnick Stadium. He became just the second Spartan quarterback to eclipse the 8,000-yard career passing milestone. Cousins also tied his career high with three TD passes, including first-half scoring tosses of 6 and 22 yards to Cunningham and 17 yards to Edwin Baker.
Cousins completed 23-of-34 passes for 296 yards and two TDs in MSUâ€™s 31-24 victory over Minnesota. On the final drive of the first half, he went 6-of-8 passing for 66 yards, including a 2-yard TD toss to fullback Todd Anderson on a first-and-goal play. Cousins completed passes to four different receivers during that eight-play, 74-yard drive that lasted 52 seconds.
He became the winningest quarterback in Spartan history with MSUâ€™s dramatic 37-31 victory over No. 4 Wisconsin on Oct. 29. It marked his 22nd career victory, breaking the mark previously held by Smoker, who recorded 21 wins from 2000-03. In addition, Cousins was named Big Ten Co-Offensive Player of the Week after connecting on 22-of-31 throws for 290 yards and three TDs against the Badgers, including his 44-yard Hail Mary pass to Nichol on the final play of regulation. The three TD passes matched his career best. In addition to the game-winner to Nichol, Cousins completed scoring passes of 35 yards to Cunningham and 15 yards to Martin.
Cousins completed 20-of-32 passes for 250 yards in MSUâ€™s 10-7 victory at Ohio State, as the Spartans ended a seven-game losing streak against the Buckeyes and posted their first win in Columbus since 1998. His 33-yard TD strike to Cunningham in the back of the end zone gave MSU a 7-0 lead midway through the first quarter.
He completed 13-of-22 throws for 213 yards, one TD and one interception in MSUâ€™s 45-7 victory over Central Michigan.
Cousins set personal bests for pass completions (34) and pass attempts (53) at Notre Dame. His 329 passing yards are the most ever by a Spartan quarterback against the Irish (previous record: 327 yards by Drew Stanton, 2005). His 34 completions are second-highest single-game total in MSU history (school record: 35 by Jeff Smoker vs. Ohio State, 2003) while his 53 attempts are fifth-best figure in school history.
Cousins connected on 18-of-22 throws for 222 passing yards in the 2011 season opener against Youngstown State, including an 18-yard TD strike to Cunningham late in the third quarter that gave MSU a 21-6 lead. He completed his first six pass attempts for 114 yards.
The Holland, Mich., native ranks first in MSU history in pass completions (723), passing yards (9,131), TD passes (66), passing efficiency (146.1), 200-yard passing games (26) and total offense (9,004 yards). He also is listed among MSUâ€™s all-time leaders in pass attempts (second with 1,128), completion percentage (second at .641; 723 of 1,128) and passing yards per game (third at 202.9). Cousins also ranks among the Big Tenâ€™s all-time Top 10 in completion percentage (tied for sixth), passing efficiency (seventh), passing yards (10th) and TD passes (tied for 10th).
As a fifth-year senior, Cunningham became MSUâ€™s all-time leader in receptions (218) and receiving yards (3,086). He also is listed among the schoolâ€™s career leaders in TD receptions (second with 25) and 100-yard receiving games (third with 10). The 6-2, 215-pound Cunningham closed out his career ranked among the Big Tenâ€™s all-time leaders in receptions (seventh) and receiving yards (ninth).
Cunningham led the 2011 Spartans in receptions (tied MSU single-season record with 79), receiving yards (1,306), TD receptions (12) and 20-yard receptions (21). Fifty-five of his career-high 79 receptions (70 percent) resulted in either a touchdown or a first down. His 12 TD receptions (tied for third) and 1,306 receiving yards (third) also ranked among the Top 10 single-season totals in MSU history. He set a school single-season record with eight 100-yard receiving games.
A second-team All-Big Ten selection by the coaches and media, Cunningham finished among the conference leaders in TD receptions (tied for first), receiving yards (third at 93.3 per game) and receptions (fourth at 5.6 per game). In addition, he ranked 17th in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision in receiving yards.
â€œB.J. Cunningham will impress the pro scouts with his sheer physicality,â€ Roushar said. â€œHeâ€™s a physical receiver, with great hands. When the ball is thrown his way, B.J. will catch it at its highest point, and he has the ability to go over defenders and make the play.
â€œIn addition, his work ethic is unmatched. Whether itâ€™s winter conditioning, practice or a game, B.J. consistently plays to the best of his ability. All of his hard work really paid off his senior year, as he rewrote the record book. If everyone approached the offseason like B.J. did throughout his career, weâ€™d have a special football team.â€
With seven catches for 66 yards in MSUâ€™s 33-30 triple-overtime win over Georgia in the 2012 Outback Bowl, Cunningham tied the school single-season record for receptions with 79 (Devin Thomas, 2007).
He became MSUâ€™s all-time leader in receiving yards during the Big Ten Championship Game against Wisconsin with his 44-yard TD reception in the third quarter, passing Andre Rison, who previously held the record with 2,992 receiving yards. Cunningham recorded his eighth 100-yard receiving game of the season with 115 yards on five catches, establishing a school record. Cunningham recorded a career-high three TDs against the Badgers: he scored his first TD on a 30-yard pass from Cousins on fourth-and-inches on the first play of the second quarter, cutting the Badger lead to 21-14; for his second TD, he caught a lateral from Nichol at the 7-yard line and ran it in for a touchdown; his third touchdown, a 44-yarder, arrived on a third-and-6 play with 1:41 left in the third quarter. In five career games against Wisconsin, Cunningham had 22 catches for 309 yards and six touchdowns.
Cunningham had six catches for 120 yards, including TD receptions of 33 and 29 yards from Kirk Cousins, in the Spartansâ€™ 31-17 victory at Northwestern. He had six receptions for 132 yards and two TDs in MSUâ€™s 55-3 victory over Indiana on Senior Day. Cunningham caught three passes for 104 yards in MSUâ€™s 31-24 win over Minnesota, including a season-long 69-yard reception from Cousins in the first quarter helped set up the Spartansâ€™ first touchdown. He had six receptions for 102 yards in MSUâ€™s 37-31 victory over No. 4 Wisconsin, including a 35-yard TD grab from Cousins in the second quarter.
Cunningham had nine receptions for 154 yards and a touchdown in MSUâ€™s 10-7 victory at Ohio State, as the Spartans ended a seven-game losing streak against the Buckeyes and recorded their first win in Columbus since 1998. He scored on a 33-yard strike from Cousinsto give MSU a 7-0 lead midway through the first quarter. His 154 receiving yards are the most ever by a Spartan against Ohio State (previous record: 135 receiving yards by Frank Foreman, 1969).
Cunningham recorded career highs in receptions (12) and receiving yards (158) at Notre Dame. His 12 catches tied for fourth most in a game by a Spartan wide receiver (record: 14 by Matt Trannon vs. Eastern Michigan in 2006). His 158 receiving yards were the most since Blair White had 186 yards against Northwestern in 2009, and the second most for a Spartan wide receiver against Notre Dame (Charles Rogers, 175 yards in 2002). It marked his second-career 100-yard receiving game against the Irish (seven receptions for 101 yards vs. Notre Dame in 2010). In four career games against Notre Dame, Cunningham had 26 receptions for 361 yards and one TD.
The Westerville, Ohio, nativecaught nine passes for 130 yards in the 2011 season opener against Youngstown State, as he tied Trannonâ€™s(2003-06)record for career receptions with 148. His 18-yard TD catch from Cousins late in the third quarter gave MSU a 21-6 lead.
In 2011, Martin recorded career highs in receptions (66) and receiving yards (777). The multi-dimensional threat accounted for seven touchdowns in 2011 (four receiving, two rushing and one punt return) and ranked third on the team in all-purpose yards with 1,194 (777 receiving; 274 punt returns, 113 rushing, 30 kickoff returns). His 66 receptions (tied for sixth) and 274 punt return yards (10th) rank among MSUâ€™s Top 10 single-season totals.
The 5-11, 189-pound Martin ranked second in the Big Ten in punt returns (11.0 avg.), sixth in receptions (4.7 per game) and 10th in receiving yards (55.5 ypg.). In conference games, he finished fourth in the Big Ten in receptions (4.9 per game) and eighth in receiving yards (61.9 ypg.).
â€œKeshawn Martin is a dynamic athlete,â€ Roushar said. â€œHeâ€™s an explosive player who has the ability to create separation from the defender and go get the football. Keshawn has displayed great quickness in tight quarters combined with the ability to make defenders miss. His speed is very deceiving. When reviewing cut-ups from last season, I had forgotten how many times he simply ran by people. Keshawn made tremendous strides as a football player from year two to year four. When healthy, he was a difference maker. Keshawn has a good football IQ plus great versatility. He can throw it, run it, catch it and advance it. He also has the ability to impact special teams as a punt and kickoff returner.â€Â Â
Martin had a career-high nine receptions for 115 yards and compiled a team-high 153 all-purpose yards in the Big Ten Championship Game against Wisconsin. It marked his second career 100-yard receiving game and first of the season.
He accounted for 122 all-purpose yards and a touchdown in MSUâ€™s 31-17 victory at Northwestern, as the Spartans won the Big Ten Legends Division title outright. Martin averaged 30.5 yards on four touches against the Wildcats. His 57-yard punt return for a touchdown in the final minute of the first half gave the Spartans a 17-3 halftime lead. Martin caught two passes for 57 yards, including a 46-yard grab late in the second quarter that set up Leâ€™Veon Bellâ€™s 7-yard TD run. He also rushed one time for 8 yards.
Martin was named to the Paul Hornung Award Weekly Honor Roll after accounting for a season-high 182 all-purpose yards and two scores in MSUâ€™s 55-3 victory over Indiana on Senior Day. He had eight catches for a season-best 99 yards against the Hoosiers, including a 47-yard TD grab from Kirk Cousins late in the first quarter. His eight receptions matched his career high (vs. Notre Dame, 2008). Martin also scored on a 19-yard reverse early in the second quarter that gave the Spartans a 24-3 lead. He also returned five punts for 64 yards, including a 21-yard return in the second quarter that set up Edwin Bakerâ€™s first rushing touchdown. His 30-yard punt return late in the third quarter helped set up Bakerâ€™s second TD run early in the fourth quarter.Â
He had four receptions for 87 yards, including a 67-yard catch, at Iowa. Against Nebraska (five catches for 58 yards) and Minnesota (seven catches for 77 yards), Martin led MSU in both receptions and receiving yards.
In the second quarter of MSUâ€™s 37-31 win over No. 4 Wisconsin, Martin scored on a 34-yard double reverse. He also caught five passes for 41 yards against the Badgers, including a 15-yard TD reception early in the fourth quarter that gave the Spartans a 31-17 lead.
Martin had three catches for 31 yards in Michigan Stateâ€™s 28-14 victory over No. 11 Michigan, including TD grabs of 10 and 13 yards in the third quarter.
The Inkster, Mich., native ranks among MSUâ€™s all-time leaders in punt return yards (second with 659), kick return yards (eighth with 1,100), all-purpose yards (10th with 4,013), receptions (11th with 127), receiving yards (16th with 1,714) and TD receptions (tied for 17th with 10). Martin accounted for touchdowns in five different ways during his career (rushing, receiving, passing, punt return and kickoff return) and scored 17 total TDs (10 receptions, three rush, two punt returns, one pass, one kickoff return). He is one of just three Spartans in school history, along with Derrick Mason and Bill Simpson, to return two punts for touchdowns (74 yards vs. Wisconsin in 2010; 57 yards vs. Northwestern in 2011). Over the last four seasons, Martin led the team with 59 plays of 20-plus yards and 17 plays of 40-plus yards.
A first-team All-Big Ten selection by the media, Robinson started 13 of 14 games at free safety in 2011, tied for the team lead in interceptions (4) and finished third on the team with a career-best 80 tackles (48 solos, 32 assists). His four interceptions ranked second in the Big Ten and tied for No. 22 in the NCAA FBS. He finished tied for third on the team in passes defended (6) and seventh in production points (136).
â€œTrenton Robinson will impress pro personnel with the way he flies to the football,â€ MSU Defensive Coordinator Pat Narduzzi said. â€œAt the practices leading up to the Senior Bowl, he showed pro scouts what we saw throughout his career; whenever Trenton steps between the lines, he plays the game full speed. He plays fast and has a great motor. Throughout his college career, Trenton showcased his ability to make plays â€“ both against the run and in pass coverage.â€
The 5-10, 192-pound Robinson registered six tackles against No. 18 Georgia in the 2012 Outback Bowl. He produced a season-high 12 tackles against Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Game. Robinson made eight stops in MSUâ€™s 31-17 victory at Northwestern. He was selected Spartan Defensive Player of the Week after recording a career-best two interceptions, a pass break-up and six tackles in MSUâ€™s come-from-behind win over Minnesota. His first pick against the Gophers came early in the fourth quarter and set up a Spartan field goal, and his second interception came at the MSU 23-yard line with 10 seconds left in the game to ice a 31-24 victory. Robinson made eight stops, including one for a 7-yard loss, at No. 13 Nebraska. He played an excellent all-around game against No. 4 Wisconsin, recording eight tackles, including one for a 1-yard loss, and an interception. Robinson contributed six stops and a pass break-up in MSUâ€™s fourth-straight win over Michigan. He tallied five tackles against Central Michigan and recorded his first interception of the season, returning it 34 yards to set up a second-quarter touchdown.
A four-year letterman, Robinson started 32 of 46 career games. His career totals included 229 tackles, nine interceptions and 12 pass break-ups. His nine interceptions rank tied for 12th in the MSU record book.
Worthy, a consensus All-American, anchored a Spartan defensive unit that led the Big Ten in rushing defense (100.5 yards per game), total defense (277.4 ypg.) and sacks (45) in 2011. The 6-3, 310-pound junior defensive tackle produced a tackle for loss in nine of MSUâ€™s 14 games.
Worthy earned First-Team All-America honors from The Associated Press, American Football Coaches Association (AFCA), Walter Camp Football Foundation, CBSSports.com, Yahoo! Sports and NBCSports.com. He became the first Spartan defensive lineman to earn AP First-Team All-America honors since defensive end Charles â€œBubbaâ€ Smith in 1966. In addition, Worthy was named one of 12 semifinalists for the Lombardi Award (college lineman of the year), one of 16 semifinalists for the Chuck Bednarik Award (defensive player of the year) and one of 20 quarterfinalists for the Lott IMPACT Trophy (presented to Defensive IMPACT Player of the Year).
A first-team All-Big Ten selection by both the coaches and media, Worthy ranked fourth on the team in tackles for loss (10.5 for 42 yards), including 3.5 sacks (28 yards). He recorded 30 tackles (19 solos, 11 assists) and was credited with 14 quarterback hits and 10 QB hurries.
â€œThereâ€™s no question that Jerel Worthy has the potential to be a first-round pick,â€ Narduzzi said. â€œPro personnel will be impressed by his athletic ability, the way he gets off the football and the way he runs to the football. Jerel is a very intelligent player, who understands what offenses are trying to do against him. He also has the ability to make big plays in the offensive backfield.â€
Worthy closed out his collegiate career in style by matching his career high in tackles (5) and tackles for loss (2 for 2 yards) in MSUâ€™s 33-30 triple-overtime win over No. 18 Georgia in the 2012 Outback Bowl.
He tied a career high with two tackles for loss (3 yards) in the 55-3 win over Indiana. In its 37-21 win at Iowa, MSU limited Marcus Coker, the nationâ€™s sixth-leading rusher, to just 57 yards on 21 carries â€“ 65 yards below his season rushing average.
Worthy made three tackles in MSUâ€™s 37-31 victory over No. 4 Wisconsin, including one for a 2-yard loss. He had two stops in MSUâ€™s 28-14 win over No. 11 Michigan, including a 4-yard half sack. Worthy also produced two tackles in MSUâ€™s 10-7 victory at Ohio State, with 1.5 tackles for loss including a 5-yard sack.
He registered four stops and recovered a fumble at Notre Dame. Worthy wore retired jersey No. 95 against the Irish as a tribute to former two-time All-American â€œBubbaâ€ Smith, who passed away in early August. Smithâ€™s final game as a Spartan came in the 1966 â€œGame of the Centuryâ€ between the No. 1 Irish and No. 2 Spartans that ended in a 10-10 tie.
The Huber Heights, Ohio, native started 38 of 40 career games and recorded 107 tackles, with 27.5 resulting in losses (118 yards) including 12 sacks (78 yards). Those marks rank among MSUâ€™s all-time leaders: tied for 12th in sacks and 13th in tackles for loss. He also blocked three kicks.
The 5-9, 210-pound Baker started eight games in 2011 and ranked as the teamâ€™s second-leading rusher with 665 yards (170 carries) and five rushing TDs. He recorded season highs for carries (26) and rushing yards (167) in MSUâ€™s 28-14 win over No. 11 Michigan.
Baker also had five receptions for 60 yards as a junior, including a 17-yard TD grab from Cousins at Iowa.
â€œEdwin Baker was the fastest guy on our roster, and with his explosiveness, I expect him to test extremely well,â€ Roushar said. â€œHe really ran the football hard the last two years. With his quickness, Edwin has the ability to hit the home run. Heâ€™s a threat to go the distance anytime he has the ball in his hands. Edwin is a very physical back, both in the running game and pass protection. I also think he has better ball skills (as a receiver) than heâ€™s recognized for.â€
In 2010, he led the team in carries (207), rushing yards (1,201) and rushing TDs (13). Baker became just the sixth sophomore in MSU history to reach the 1,000-yard rushing milestone. He ranked fourth in the Big Ten and No. 30 in the NCAA FBS in rushing, averaging 92.4 yards per game.Â Â Â Â Â
The Highland Park, Mich., native started 21 of 35 career games and ranks among MSUâ€™s all-time leaders in rushing yards (12th with 2,293), rushing attempts (13th with 462) and rushing TDs (18th with 19). Baker posted six career 100-yard rushing games.
The 2012 NFL Draft will be conducted April 26-28 (Thursday, April 26 â€“ first round; Friday, April 27 â€“ second and third rounds; and Saturday, April 28 â€“ fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh rounds) at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.