A year ago at this time Dalvin Cook was just setting foot on campus at Florida State. A five star recruit that had been committed to the University of Florida for most of his senior year flipped his commitment and early enrolled in Tallahassee. He was the third back in the rotation and was expected to contribute early. He did much more that that.
However, Cook didn’t get a single carry in the opening game of the season, but said that he wasn’t disappointed. He knew that head coach Jimbo Fisher had a reason for it.
“I wasn’t disappointed,” Cook said. “With coach Fisher you have to learn have to learn how to practice with him and I was still learning how to practice. I was still learning how to pass block and do all them things. So I wasn’t mad that he didn’t just throw me out there. I feel like it was a great thing learning.
Cook picked up some carries in the next few games, but didn’t see major time until second-string running back Mario Pender went out with an injury in the Syracuse game.
“That was really my shot,” Cook said. “I just felt like I was ready and they just let me out there. They just let me go.”
Cook moved into the starting running back spot a few weeks later and wouldn’t relinquish it. He dominated in games against Louisville, Miami, Florida, and Georgia Tech. Unfortunately for Cook, and Florida State, he had two big fumbles in the Rose Bowl. He’s put that game behind him, but he hasn’t forgotten about it.
“I watch it over and over,” Cook said. “That’s how I’m getting better. I’m learning from my mistakes.”
He isn’t using that game as motivation, but as a learning tool to help him improve for the 2015 season.
“I think I’m always motivated,” Cook said. “It’s just in me. The first time watching it, it killed me to watch it. Now that I’ve got it in me I just watch it over and over and learn from it because that was probably on of my worst games of the season. I just learned from that.
Once the game was over Cook came out and spoke with the media about his fumbles. He said he wanted to do that because he’s a competitor.
“I felt like the success that I was having all season and with the things that I was doing I felt like that shouldn’t happen,” Cook said. “I know me and I know I could do better than that. I don’t like to let my teammates down. That’s just the competitor in me. I’m a competitive guy. I don’t like when things go wrong, and I’m a man about it.”
Cook broke Warrick Dunn’s freshman rushing record with 1,008 yards on the season. He also had 8 touchdowns. He said he wasn’t paying attention to the stats and that there’s only one thing he cares about.
“I didn’t even know I had broken the freshman record till they told me,” Cook said. “I just go out there and play. I just like winning. I don’t care what the stats say I just like getting the W. I came from a winning program when I was young. I was always a winner and I just like winning.”
Now just one year after he set foot on campus Cook is the first team running back and the leader of this offense. Cook said that he wasn’t moving as fast as he could last year because he didn’t know the offense as well as he does now.
“Last year when I was still learning it I couldn’t move one-hundred percent like I wanted too,” Cook said. “Now I just feel like I got it. I got the groove and as long as I keep moving around and I’ve got our offensive line it’s going to be good. I’m just trying to make Sean’s life easier.”
Coach Fisher believes he’s put last season behind him and said he’s playing lights out so far this spring.
“Last season is last season,” Fisher said. “He’s moved on. He’s had a great offseason. He had four runs today that were crazy good. He’s playing lights out right now.”
With the loss of Jameis Winston, the entire offensive line, Nick O’Leary, and Rashad Greene coach Fisher will be leaning on Cook more than last year. He knows the spotlight is going to be on him all season, but that it isn’t going to make a difference.
“It won’t change anything,” Cook said. “I feel like we still got to line up and go against each other. I feel like the best man will win and I just feel like I’m going to be the best man every time I step onto the field.”
That’s definitely going to make whoever wins the starting quarterback job’s life much easier come the fall.