Ex-Spartan QB: No shocker Foles, Cousins excelling in NFL

Former MSU QBs Nick Foles (17), Kirk Cousins (8), Brian Hoyer (7) and Connor Dixon (10) pose for a picture on 2007 team photo day.

Michigan State QBs are a hot topic in NFL circles these days. Former Spartans Kirk Cousins, Brian Hoyer and Nick Foles (who later transferred to Arizona) were all at one time in the MSU quarterbacks room together and now each is thriving.

Cousins (Washington) is the NFL’s No. 4 ranked passer. Hoyer (Cleveland) is No. 10 and Foles (Philadelphia) is No. 11. (Another former Spartan QB Drew Stanton, now in Arizona, is also in the top 25.)

Last week, Foles, a Pro Bowler and the breakout star of the 2013 season, was asked about his time in East Lansing. He pointed out that his decision to transfer in 2008 had nothing to do with losing a position battle to back up Hoyer, the team’s starter. The guy who actually won the backup spot wasn’t Cousins either. It was Connor Dixon.

Who?

Dixon was a lanky, 6-4 dual-threat QB who came to MSU as a three-star recruit. He describes himself as more of a game manager who could run. He got some mop-up duty in the Spartans’ opener in 2007, throwing a TD pass against UAB, but that would be his only appearance of the season. At the end of the year, he underwent shoulder surgery. He would later undergo two more shoulder surgeries and transfer closer to home to play at Duquesne, where he switched to wideout and tied a school record with 16 touchdown receptions. In 2012, he was invited to the Pittsburgh Steelers camp, but didn’t stick with the team after he required another surgery — this one on his back.

With his football career over, Dixon has gone into sports medicine sales, working for Mid-Atlantic Surgical Systems. FOX Sports caught up with Dixon on Tuesday. He said he’s not at all shocked to see all the success his old Michigan State teammates are now having in the NFL.

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"It’s awesome," said Dixon, who tries to watch their games whenever he can. "I’m very happy for all of ’em. Success couldn’t have happened to any better people. Those guys are phenomenal. Brian, Kirk and Nick all work extremely hard and they’re all so humble. They were raised the right way and you put that together on top of their skill and I’m not surprised in the slightest at how well they’re doing now."

Dixon has fond memories of his days at MSU and the camaraderie the Spartans quarterbacks had.

"It was fun," he said. "I was helping those guys (Foles and Cousins) because they were a year behind me. We all were helping each other to try and get better."

Asked if he ever wonders how his career might’ve been different if he hadn’t had so many injuries, Dixon said "it all happens for a reason," adding that he probably would’ve ended up as a receiver regardless. "It was a good experience."