This weekend's NFL Draft featured plenty of anxious moments for Dr. Ralph Woodard.
After months of discussion and speculation, the 1945 Fort Dodge High School graduate and his wife of over 60 years, fellow FDHS alum Martha Jo (Pray) Woodard, finally saw the waiting game come to an end on Saturday when their grandson - former Michigan State star quarterback Kirk Cousins - was selected in the fourth round by the Washington Redskins.
"We've been going for two days now watching this draft and just hoping Kirk would get taken," said Woodard, who currently lives with Martha in Okoboji. "I don't think anybody really knew where he'd go. The draft is just so much different now than it ever was before (the NFL Draft was 12 rounds from 1977-1992 before eventually reducing to seven in 1994)."
Following an all-state prep football career with the Dodgers, Woodard played end for Dr. Eddie Anderson at Iowa from 1945-49, where he carried a perfect 4.0 grade-point average and was a Nile Kinnick scholarship winner. He returned to Fort Dodge in 1959 and was a practicing physician and surgeon here for 36 years, raising three children with Martha: Debbie, Maryann and Tom.
Maryann, who graduated from Fort Dodge Senior High in 1975, also attended the University of Iowa and obtained a degree in nursing. She later met her future husband, Don Cousins, at a church in Chicago, and the couple eventually married at First Presbyterian Church in Fort Dodge.
They moved to Holland, Mich. - Don's home state - and raised their family there, which included athletically-gifted son Kirk.
"When Kirk was a kid he had a broken ankle in high school (as a junior), but he was pretty good in his senior year," Woodard said. "He then went on to Michigan State and was a three-year starter and team captain.
"He's a very likable young man and very brilliant, too. In college, he had a 4.0 (GPA) in pre-med and once told me, 'grandpa, if I can play pro ball I might do that and then eventually go back to medical school. Now I guess he'll have his chance. He's just a delight to be around."
Woodard's brother Dick - another former Dodger and Hawkeye standout - also played center in the NFL for the New York Giants (1950-51 and 1953) and Redskins (1952).
"I think Kirk was a little disappointed (being drafted by the Redskins) at first and wanted to go to some other teams (Washington also chose ex-Baylor All-American and 2011 Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III with the second overall pick Thursday night), but he seems fine now once he realized what had happened," said Woodard, who was inducted into FDSH's athletic Hall of Fame in 1990. "I think he was just glad to get drafted period. He has to go to Washington and see how things work out. They might trade him yet, or he could be there for awhile."
The 6-foot-3, 214-pound Cousins holds Michigan State career records in passing touchdowns (66), passing yards (9,131), completions (723), passing efficiency (146.1 rating), total offense (9,004 yards) and 200-yard passing games (26). He also ranks among the Big Ten's all-time leaders in completion percentage (tied for sixth at .641), passing efficiency rating (seventh), passing yards (10th) and touchdown passes (tied for 10th).
Cousins is the winningest signal-caller in Spartan history (27 victories) and only the second three-time captain at MSU, joining elite company in former Detroit Lions' draft pick Robert McCurry (1946-48).
Cousins, who grew up a University of Iowa fan and had interest in playing for the Hawkeyes, helped direct the Spartans to an 11-3 overall record and 7-1 mark in the league this past fall. MSU represented the Legends Division in the inaugural 2011 Big Ten Conference championship game and later earned a dramatic 33-30 three-overtime comeback triumph over Georgia in the Outback Bowl.
Woodard is thrilled to see what the future holds for his well-known grandson.
"I'm sure he won't get to play too much right away," Woodard said of Cousins. "I don't know how many games we'll be able to go see, either, because (Landover, Md.) is a ways to go, but we'll definitely be watching and rooting him on."
Contact Josh Meyer at (515) 573-2141, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org