MSU QB Connor Cook wins Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award

Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook will take some individual hardware into the College Football Playoff: the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award.

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Cook beat out four other finalists for the honor, which is presented to college football's top quarterback, with additional criteria for leadership, character and academics. Other finalists were Mississippi State's Dak Prescott, USC's Cody Kessler, TCU's Trevone Boykin and Memphis' Paxton Lynch. Candidates for the award have to be seniors or fourth-year juniors on track to graduate.

Cook is 34-4 as a starter at MSU, the winningest quarterback in school history, and led the Spartans (12-1) to a berth in a College Football Playoff semifinal against Alabama on Dec. 31. He's thrown 24 touchdown passes and five interceptions this season. Cook is considered among the top 2016 NFL Draft prospects at the position.

He won the Big Ten Championship Game MVP award after the Spartans beat Iowa, 16-13, on Saturday. However, he drew criticism for snubbing two-time Heisman winner Archie Griffin when Griffin presented Cook with the award after the game. NFL Media analyst Bucky Brooks wrote that Cook's overall demeanor could be an issue for NFL scouts.

» Will intangibles hurt Connor Cook in draft?

Tennessee Titans rookie Marcus Mariota won the award last year. Other notable past winners include Peyton and Eli Manning, Matt Ryan, Carson Palmer and Andrew Luck.

Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter @ChaseGoodbread.