Kirk Cousins hits Manning, Elite 11 camps

CHICAGO -- In an effort to improve his quarterbacking skills, Michigan State's Kirk Cousins traveled to two extremes this summer.

He went to the Manning Passing Academy in Thibodaux, La., a place Cousins described as "one step removed from 'Swamp People.'" He also said Illinois coach Ron Zook called it "just left of Hell."

He also went to the Elite 11 camp at Pepperdine University, which is in Malibu, Calif.

"They're essentially polar opposites," Cousins said with a laugh. "I guess the scenery in Malibu is a little nicer than Thibodaux."

But Cousins said he learned a lot in both locales. He was one of 35 college quarterbacks at the Manning Academy, being tutored by Peyton and Eli Manning and Jon Gruden. At night, Cousins coached a 7-on-7 team that went undefeated in four games.

Best advice he got from Peyton Manning: repetition of a few routes instead of trying to throw every route in every practice. He said he's copying Manning's practice of grabbing a couple of receivers and working on two or three routes 10-12 times, "until you can throw it with your eyes closed."

At the Elite 11 camp, Cousins roomed with Oklahoma State's Brandon Weeden, Florida State's EJ Manuel and Boise State's Kellen Moore. He got to pick their brains, and to spend a lot of time with ESPN analyst and former NFL QB Trent Dilfer.

Cousins took another trip during the offseason, spending spring break in the Los Angeles area. That trip included a visit to the ultimate destination for a Big Ten football player, the Rose Bowl.

Cousins tried to get into the stadium but was shot down by a security guard. He tried explaining to the guard that he played quarterback at Michigan State, but the guard told him the only way he'd get into the stadium is as a player in the game in January.

"I'll wave at you through the bus window," Cousins responded.