Washington Redskins: The impossible rise of Kirk Cousins
By Ian Cummings
A Fleeting Window of Opportunity
Kirk Cousins began his first season as a starting quarterback in fall of 2005, and just one quarter later, his season seemed to be over.
It happened on a routine play, as it always does. Cousins dropped back to throw, and when he stepped forward, a defender hit him low, sending him to the ground. On impact, his ankle was twisted, and he limped to his feet.
Cousins didn’t dwell on the injury. He played the rest of the game, leading his team to a win. But the next morning, his ankle had become considerably worse. When the young quarterback went with his parents to have the injury looked at by a specialist, their findings put to life the worst case scenario. Cousins’ ankle had been fractured, and significant ligament damage accompanied that fracture.
The injury sidelined Cousins indefinitely, and at the time, it all but extinguished his hopes of playing college football.
Cousins was discouraged at first, but he was motivated by the possibility of coming back for the final three games, if he worked hard enough to return. With strong roots in his faith, with his father Don Cousins to thank, Cousins persevered through the injury, and after a couple months of hard work, he was able to return before the season’s end.
He did enough in those final three games to gain the attention of low-level scouts, and over the course of his senior year, he reached out to countless camps and schools, using the recruiting process to his advantage as best as he could. He and his father put together a tape of his limited play, distributing it amongst dozens of colleges.
From most, he heard not a word. But in due time, he was able to secure an invite to a camp at Penn State University. There, despite being an unknown, two-star recruit in the presence of high school football titans like current Steelers cornerback Joe Haden, Cousins managed to secure a connection with freelance quarterback coach Bob Johnson, who saw potential in Cousins..
Johnson helped spread Cousins’ name around, and soon, unexpectedly, he received a call from Mark Dantonio, coach of the Michigan State Spartans. Little did either of them know at the time that one call would set off a chain reaction. One that would propel a university to the ranks of the elite, and give Kirk Cousins his chance to shock the world.