Each year the Big Ten honors their most elite student-athletes as a tribute to their many successes both scholastically and athletically.
This award was first given in 1915 to one male student-athlete at each of the Big Ten Universities who “attained the greatest proficiency in athletics and scholastic work.”
In Part 2 of the series, we took a look at the defensive player recipients.
Now, we will reminisce on the offensive players that have been honored with this award.
Beginning with Everett Grandelius in 1951, and finishing with Kirk Cousins in 2012, these young men have demonstrated outstanding achievements in many ways.
Everett (Sonny) Grandelius (1951) The first back in NCAA history to rush 1000 yard or more in a season. Grandelius was the leading scorer of his team, and was named MVP. In 1950, he was named All-American during his senior year. Grandelius was the 11th pick overall in the 1951 NFL draft. After his professional career, Sonny coached for the Detroit Lions, Philadelphia Eagles, Colorado and Michigan State.
Steve Juday (1966) As the teams quarterback, Juday threw a total of 21 touchdowns during his career at Michigan State from 1963-1965. In 1965, He also led the Spartans to a Big Ten title, Rose Bowl appearance and Co-National Championship.
Eugene (Gene) Washington (1967) Standing at 6-foot-3-inches, Gene was a wide receiver with amazing size and speed. He was drafted in the first round of the 1967 draft to the Minnesota Vikings, and later was named to two straight NFL All Pro Bowls. Washington was inducted into the Michigan State Football Hall of Fame in 2011.
Lynoel (Ty) Willingham (1977) While at Michigan State, not only was Willingham a member of the Spartans Football team, but also the Spartans Baseball team, while pursuing a degree in physical education. Following his college career, He went on to begin his thirty-year coaching career at several Universities and Professional Teams including Central Michigan, Notre Dame, Minnesota Vikings, Michigan State and Stanford.
Mark Brammer (1980) Brammer played as tight end during his career at Michigan State. He had 107 receptions with 1305 yards and 5 touchdowns in his four-year career at MSU. Brammer was picked by the Buffalo Bills in the 3rd round of the 1980 NFL draft, where he had a 5-year professional career.
Morten Anderson (1982) Anderson was one of the most impressive kickers that Michigan State has ever had. During his career at MSU, he set several records including a Big Ten Conference record for a 63-yard field goal against Ohio State University. In 1981 Anderson was named All-American. He went on to have a twenty-five year career in the NFL, playing for 6 different teams. He became an all time leading scorer for the NFL.
Dean Altobelli (1987) Altobelli was awarded Academic All-American in 1985. Altobelli only played one season at Michigan State after transferring from the University of Alabama. Altobelli graduated with a 3.96 GPA in mechanical engineering. He was also a two-time Academic-All American, a Rhodes Scholar candidate, and a member of Phi Kappa Phi honor society. He also received many awards for his academic and athletic achievements.
Shaun Mason (2001) As a freshmen at Michigan State, Mason started all 12 games as right guard. He was named to the Academic All-Big Ten team in 1998 and 1999. Mason also received the Universities Potsy Ross award for his outstanding academic and athletic achievements. He was also awarded the Iron Man award for his commitment in the weight room as well. He was named among the nations best offensive guards during his career at Michigan State.
Josh Thornhill (2002) Thornhill was from Lansing, MI., making him a true Spartan, born and raised. He played as linebacker at MSU from 1989-2001. He was also named All-Big Ten MVP in 2001, and Academic All-Big Ten in 1999. Thornhill was drafted to the Detroit Lions in 2002, where he played one season.
Drew Stanton (2006-07) Stanton is the only Michigan State Football Player to receive this award two consecutive times. Stanton played as quarterback from 1989 until 2001. He was named an Academic All-American while at MSU. Stanton was mentioned All-Big Ten in 2004 and Senior Bowl Offensive MVP in 2007. Stanton was drafted in the 2nd round to the Detroit Lions. He now plays for the Arizona Cardinals.
Blair White (2010) White was named Academic All-Big Ten in 2009, Academic All-American, and First-Team All-Big Ten in 2010. During his career at Michigan State, White finished 12th overall in MSU Football history for the most receptions. He also ranks among MSU football record holders in touchdown receptions and rushing yards. White signed as an undrafted free agent by the Indianapolis Colts in 2010, where he then played two seasons.
Kirk Cousins (2012) In 2010 Cousins led the Spartans to play in their first ever Big Ten championship game. As a senior, Cousins was awarded with the Senior Class award for his loyalty to staying in school despite his athletic achievements. He graduated with a 3.68 GPA and a degree in Kinesiology as an aspiring doctor. Cousins was drafted in the 4th round to the Washington Redskins, where he currently plays as quarterback.
If you missed the first two articles of the series, check them out!