Duffy Daugherty Football Building
East Lansing, MI
When I wrote last year that multiple Spartan players told me that, “Brian Lewerke is the best passer on this team,” it raised eyebrows. Even with a true NFL talent in Connor Cook on the team, Lewerke made plays all season. He has a big arm and is accurate. All last season defensive players raved about him privately.
The Spartans young star did nothing this off season to disappoint and he continues to shine. So much so that I asked MSU head coach Mark Dantonio about him recently and he told me, “Quick release and knows where to go with the ball for a young player. Very steady, very cool and he has great arm strength. He reminds me a little bit of Kirk Cousins in a lot of ways.”
I have said it so many time that frequent readers of Spartan Nation are probably tired of hearing it. When Mark Dantonio speaks listen closely to what he says and doesn’t say. He is classic. When Mark Dantonio compares a QB to Kirk Cousins and that speaks volumes about his feelings towards someone.
Cousins is one of Mark Dantonio’s all-time favorites. He revered the way he played and conducted himself. Lewerke shares many of the same attributes as Cousins. Both men love the game, study it and are great leaders. Both men share with Dantonio a deep commitment to their personal faith in Jesus Christ.
One area that Cousins and Lewerke could not be compared if you were being honest is that Lewerke may throw a better ball than Cousins did at this point in his career. That is telling.
Lewerke has star power written all over him. That doesn’t mean he is a finished product, but no one is only one year into a college career. Here is what Dantonio said about his young quarterbacks and what he is looking for this spring, “I think it is always about decision making and then the ability to create when things break down. You can’t make a lot of mistakes at that position. You have to control everyone else and you have to lead on the field. You have to get everything started, even if it is a pure running play and obviously execution and decision making and then creativity.”
With Tyler O’Connor clearly being the #1 QB, Damion Terry and Brian Lewerke are fighting for the number two spot. That is what makes those important words from the head coach. If Lewerke continues to shine he has a big time shot.
MSU QB coach Brad Salem said, “Spring ball is an opportunity for guys to get chances and to compete while we are bouncing around the ones and the twos.” An interesting note about Lewerke is that he has played his best with the ones and that tells you a little about him being a gamer, just like Cousins.
I asked Salem about the buzz around camp for Lewerke and he told me, “He plays with confidence and he has calmness around him. Throws and really anticipates windows. Throws the ball accurately right now. Part of it is just the management and experience of more reps, more situations. Obviously the more situations you get exposed to the more opportunities you get to learn from them.”
Someone inside the program told me recently that, “Lewerke reminds me a lot of where Connor Cook was coming in to his redshirt freshman season. I think Tyler (O’Connor) is ahead of where Andrew (Maxwell) was, but Cook made it clear that he was a star early and so has Lewerke.”
So I asked Salem if he agreed with the Cook example I just mentioned from someone inside the program, “Maybe. That is a good representation of him. The one thing we had to sort of throw him (Lewerke) in. He was almost our backup QB going in to Penn State with Connor not playing and Damian Terry was hurt at the time. That week helped accelerate his urgency because he realized wow this is a lot of stuff and I got to get ready. He has really done a nice job this offseason learning the offense.”
Co Offensive coordinator shared the praise of Lewerke when I asked him about him. Warner told me, “We knew right from the start that he was a very confident, cool type kid behind center and he has shown that through six practices. He is picking up the offense, it takes a little time, but he is picking things up. He just doesn’t get flustered. He stays in there; he sits in the pocket and throws with good accuracy. So it is just a matter of him getting reps.”
One thing is certain. Lewerke has lived up to all of the hype with recruiting and earned a ton of respect from his defensive teammates who had to face him nearly every week last year running the scout team. Now that he is competing for a real job and not a redshirt, the intensity has picked up. He isn’t disappointing.
When your head coach equates you to Kirk Cousins that is all you need to know. On the record and off people are raving about Lewerke and it is time for the Spartan Nation to take notice. This young gun throws a hot ball that burns like the desert in his home state of Arizona and he is turning heads.