CHICAGO -- Coming off a pair of standout performances to close the 2013 season, Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook has piqued the attention of scouts around the NFL.
As for Cook's attention, at least one NFL quarterback has it, and he just happens to be from the Spartans' in-state rival school. When CFB 24/7 asked Cook if there's a pro signal-caller he tries to emulate, he mentioned Tom Brady.
"One of my favorite quarterbacks, even though he went to Michigan -- I know -- I like Tom Brady a lot. After watching that (ESPN documentary) "Brady Six" and seeing all the people talking smack about him and no one give him respect, for him to go to the NFL and done what he's done is unreal," Cook said Tuesday at Big Ten Media Days. "I got a lot of respect for him. I think he's a great player."
One thing Cook and Brady have in common, aside from the position they play and state in which they played college ball, is both appear to have a chip on their shoulder. The "Brady Six" documentary told the story of Brady's rise from being the 199th pick of the 2000 draft, a year in which six quarterbacks were picked ahead of Brady. The long draft wait fueled Brady's drive, and it sounds like Cook will have no problem with motivation, either.
"I feel like as a team, we don't get the respect we deserve," Cook said. "That's why we play with a chip on our shoulder every single year, but we're used to it. We're used to Michigan being the favorites. We're used to Ohio State being the favorites ... Nebraska, whoever. ... We could win the Big Ten, we could win the Rose Bowl and we're still not going to get the respect."
Cook had yet to even win the Spartans' starting job a year ago at this time. He certainly has earned more respect since then -- he ranked sixth on NFL Media analyst Bucky Brooks' list of the top 10 college quarterbacks to watch in 2014 -- and he's grown more confident, too.
Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio anticipates Cook's increased comfort will have a big impact on the entire Spartans team.
"When you have a quarterback coming back with experience, with a lot of game experience, when he's been successful, that's going to pay dividends," Dantonio said. "When you look back at our time here, Brian Hoyer's second year in 2008 was successful. (Kirk) Cousins, his second and his third year as a starting quarterback, very successful. Connor Cook's first year of starting quarterback, successful. So it gives him a lot of experience, a lot of confidence moving forward. And I think it's a major factor in where we're at as a football team."
Cook is a redshirt junior and still has two years of eligibility remaining. If he picks up where he left off last season, his draft wait, whether it's in 2015 or '16, will be a lot shorter than that of his NFL idol.