Cobb making up for lost time
By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on November 10, 2009 1:46 PM
He runs with an edge and a nastiness fueled by an injury that nearly stripped him of his ability to play the game he loves.
Yet, he speaks with the shyness and humility of a man wise beyond his years.
During his sophomore season, Charles B. Aycock running back Marcus Cobb feared his football career was over when he suffered a torn ACL. Cobb diligently attended early morning physical therapy sessions and worked relentlessly to rehab his knee in hopes of once again lugging the leather.
"When I run I don't ever want it to be my last time to run the ball or to play anymore," said Cobb. "When I hurt my knee I thought that was going to be my last time ever playing."
Golden Falcons head coach Randy Pinkowski began last season with Cobb lined up only on defense through the first five games as his prized running back worked to regain confidence in his knee. Cobb finished the 2008 campaign with a bang, rushing for over 100 yards in four of the Golden Falcons' final five games.
He's followed that up this season by rushing for over 1,700 yards to go with 26 touchdowns. He averaged eight-plus yards a carry and more than 156 yards a game. Cobb is less than 300 yards shy of becoming the school's first back to gain 2,000 yards in a season since Shelton Robinson in the late 1970s.
In 16 career varsity contests, Cobb has averaged over seven yards a carry, gained over 2,500 yards and found the end zone 31 times on 355 carries.
"I think his numbers become more impressive if you look closely at his number of carries," said Pinkowski. "Against Rosewood he had 11 carries and against North Lenoir he had 14. We've had games where if had carried the ball 25 times he would have had 350 or 400 yards. For him to have the numbers he does with only 16 varsity games carrying the ball now, coming off a knee injury and playing for a coach that pulls him out in some games, his numbers are very impressive."
A rare combination of speed and power, Cobb possesses the ability to get to the corner and outrun defenders or lower his shoulder and run through tacklers. This versatility has given Pinkowski and his staff more freedom in play-calling and allowed them to incorporate Cobb into the passing game.
"You have the best of both worlds as a coach and it's taken a little time to get Marcus to understand that we're not expecting him to break the big run every single time," said Pinkowski. "What I need him to do is finish the run. If you get there and there's nothing there, just stick it up in the line of scrimmage. He had so much success early that he had to learn that in the big games against super competition that is really going to gang up to tackle him just go ahead and stick it up in there and get three, four or five yards."
When asked about his personal accomplishments, Cobb quickly points to the overall success of the team and the impact a veteran offensive line has made on the offense. He speaks softly at times and with hesitation, but insists he's more vocal on the field.
"Coming into this season, I wasn't really thinking about my own numbers," said Cobb. "I was just thinking about helping us get deep into the playoffs. Our offensive line is really the base of our offense and if they have a bad night then our whole offense has a bad night."
Cobb doesn't apologize for not getting caught up in his own numbers or for never saying very much and he doesn't have to. Listen carefully while he's running the football and you'll hear him say plenty.
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