Like it or not, Kirk Cousins guided the Washington Redskins to the playoffs last year.
He stepped up and threw for 4,166 passing yards with 29 touchdowns to 11 interceptions. Washington clinched an NFC East title at 9-7, but fell to Green Bay on wildcard weekend.
Cousins’ toughness and leadership is what earned him the starting at Michigan State from 2009-11 (enrolled in 2007).
He guided the Spartans to the 2011 Capital One Bowl where it faced Alabama. A defense that was anchored by Dont’a Hightower and Courtney Upshaw gave Cousins nightmares, yet it was one hit from Upshaw that did much of the damage.
“The hardest hit I’ve ever received was against the Alabama Crimson Tide at the 2011 Capital One Ball (sic), Courtney Upshaw came off the left edge, also known as the blind side, and hit me so hard that I felt like I’d been in a car accident,” Cousins wrote, “and that was the only game in college that I’d left and did not return, so that is the biggest one I ever took.”
Listed below is a video of Upshaw’s hit on Cousins, coming in at the 5:46 mark.
Alabama would go on to win the contest 49-7, ending its season at 10-3. Upshaw earned most valuable player honors after recording two sacks and Cousins had to be taken off the field.
Things have been better for both players since then. Upshaw has won a Super Bowl title with the Baltimore Ravens, while Cousins showed Washington that he could lead its franchise to the playoffs.