MSU's Cousins speaks up on and off field

As a starting quarterback in the Big Ten and a pre-med student at Michigan State, Kirk Cousins' plate seems rather full.

But when church groups, youth organizations or high schools ask him to speak at their venues, Cousins has a tough time saying no.

Between Michigan State's bowl game Jan. 2 and April 7, Cousins estimated that he'd done 10 to 15 speaking appearances. On Christmas Eve, he spoke at three separate services at a church in East Lansing, just days before departing to San Antonio for the Alamo Bowl. During the one week he has off in May, he'll make four or five speaking appearances in and around his hometown of Holland, Mich.

Though Cousins' schedule during the season or in spring ball can't accommodate as many engagements, he'll do what he can.

"I feel like being a quarterback here at a big university, this is a platform," he said. "It's an opportunity to influence people for the good. I want to take advantage of that."

Cousins, who last year became just the second sophomore to be named a co-captain in Michigan State history, references his religious background in his speeches. His father, Don, is a non-denominational Christian minister, and has helped him in the process.

"It's something that I enjoy doing," he said. "God blessed me with a little bit of talent to do it, and my dad has been able to coach me there, too. I'm not just going out there not knowing how to do it."

Cousins is well aware of the responsibility that comes with his position and the influence he has with others, especially kids. Other quarterbacks from BCS schools have received attention for their off-field work, none more so than former Florida star Tim Tebow.

While Cousins doesn't know Tebow, he has admired him and others from a distance.

"He did things the right way," Cousins said. "What I'm amazed by is the scrutiny he's been under and how closely he's been watched, and he seems to take it all in stride and seems to remain very humble. He's definitely a guy I've learned a lot from. Colt McCoy's another guy, Sam Bradford, they're all guys who seem to be very successful on the field but also off the field.

"Football's not my life. It's not the most important thing in my life. So I'm not afraid to share that and speak out."