It may be hard to believe that it’s been nearly 10 years since former star quarterback Drew Stanton was under center for the green-and-white, but he is still making an impact in the football world and at MSU.
With NFL training camps just a few weeks away, Stanton will enter his 10th NFL season and his fourth with the Arizona Cardinals.
Stanton recently joined Spartan Nation with Hondo S. Carpenter, Sr. to talk about the upcoming season and his continued role with MSU Football.
“It makes me feel old,” said Stanton of his lengthy NFL career. “It’s unbelievable to think that I’ve been fortunate to survive in this league. I’ve been lucky enough to be mentored by some great people and come across some great people in my career that have helped me to get to where I am at today. Hopefully I can do this for a couple more years or for as long as possible, but at this point I’m thinking one year at a time. I’m really excited about my situation here in Arizona.”
Stanton, 32, agreed to a two-year deal worth $6.5 million to resign with the Cardinals this offseason. Since coming to Arizona in 2013, Stanton has served primarily as the backup quarterback to Carson Palmer. However, Stanton has seen some on-field action, most notably during 2014 when he started eight games after Palmer suffered a season-ending injury. He led the Cardinals to a 5-3 record in those eight starts.
The dual-threat scrambling quarterback has always been a leader, from his early high school days at Farmington Hills Harrison throughout his lengthy NFL career. However, he said he has had to evolve in the way he leads serving as the backup quarterback.
“I was always brought up to be a leader, to lead by example but I think once you get older and become more mature you have to find ways to lead,” said Stanton, who played for MSU from 2003-2006. “You have to understand what you’re good at and some people lead by example, some people lead vocally, some people find other ways to do it. I think for myself since I had to kind of change and adapt over the years, especially in the NFL, I had to find a way to be a leader in a different facet then I was in college. When you’re the guy out there, the starting quarterback playing and doing stuff you have more command on what’s going on around you. You have the ability to dictate what’s going on and pull people toward you in the direction of what you are trying to accomplish.
“So now being a backup in the NFL for as long as I have I think the first and foremost is that there has to be respect between you and the starter. I’ve always had (that) and I think there is a mutual respect between Carson and myself that lets me do my job to the best of my ability and be a leader to the younger guys, to the offensive lineman, to the wide receivers, to the running backs. Even though I’m not out there playing on Sundays I’m doing everything I can to help our team Monday-Saturday to get there.”
Stanton is also trying to be a role model and leader to those playing for MSU. He said he has always tried to keep in touch with those who sport the Spartan emblem on Saturday’s at Spartan Stadium, including incoming recruits.
One example that comes to mind is recent quarterback commit Rocky Lombardi from West Des Moines, Iowa. Earlier this year Lombardi shared on Spartan Nation that he was extremely excited when Stanton reached out to him after verbally committing to MSU via Twitter.
“It was amazing when Drew Stanton even Tweeted at me when I committed to Michigan State. He is such a great QB with a terrific NFL career, it really shows how close and what kind of a family Michigan State is,” Lombardi said to Hondo S. Carpenter, Sr. on Spartan Nation Radio.
Stanton jokingly said he was just glad Lombardi knew who he was, but all jokes aside made it clear that he wants to be a resource for those who are already playing or will be in the future at MSU.
“I’ve always tried to stay in contact with those guys and reach out and try to be a resource for them,” Stanton said. “Even Messiah (deWeaver), I met him last year when he committed to Michigan State and I introduced myself to him. Brian Lewerke same thing. All of these guys I try to reach out to them. There probably is going to come a certain point in time where they won’t remember who I am but I want to be a resource. … When you get on campus there, especially with the amount of success they’ve had there with (Head) Coach (Mark) Dantonio, it can be overwhelming. Especially when you’re the starting quarterback. I hopefully can be that resource to maybe smooth some of those bumps they have to go through.”
Despite being gone for nearly 10 years, Stanton still comes up around the program, and during spring practice senior quarterback Tyler O’Connor was often compared to the former Spartan signal caller. O’Connor was asked about the comparison and denied that he was anymore near the level of Stanton, but that might not be the case in the eyes of Stanton.
He said he has noticed a lot of the same qualities, including leadership, and wouldn’t be surprised if O’Connor leads a successful campaign for the Spartans in 2016.
“I was so excited to see him have the success that he had last year on the very short notice going into the Ohio State game and starting,” Stanton said. “You could see the way the team rallied around him, and I think there’s a lot to be said for that. … Hashing more on leadership, the most important part about leadership is fellowship because if nobody follows you or believes what your cause are then you’re just out there doing everything for no reason. So I think Tyler has that and it’s exciting to see.
“I don’t know if he wants to be lumped into my category. Coach John L. (Smith) used to always call me a drunken sailor when I’m running or it doesn’t always look pretty or you don’t get credit for throwing spirals because I didn’t throw a lot, but I think you just find a way to win football games and you try to give everything you can to your team. I think Tyler has all of those qualities.”
Ten years in the NFL speaks for itself. Stanton left Michigan State a young man, who is now a father a husband, business man and philanthropist. To him, it is simple. He’s a Spartan and Spartan Nation is proud to call him our own.