The Terps landed a commitment from Hayfield (Alexandria, Va.) three-star receiver Brian Cobbs June 20. Afterwards, his head coach, Eric Henderson, discussed the 6-foot-3, 200-pounder with Terrapin Times.
Terrapin Times: Coach, we’d expected Brian to commit to Maryland since he landed the offer June 5. Your thoughts on him coming to the Terps?
Eric Henderson: Honestly, I was kind of surprised, just because I thought he’d stick with the process a little longer. But I think he really liked Maryland and connected with the coaches. They’re doing great things there, so I’m not surprised it was Maryland he chose, but I am surprised at the timing.
TT: I know he was waiting for the Penn State offer, but it didn’t come in, so he picked the Terps. Did you feel like he was eventually going to get some national offers?
EH: Oh, I think Brian can go just about any place he wants. The feedback I’m getting from coaches is superior ball skills, big, physical kid, and people are impressed when they see him in person. So, he’ll go to a camp and usually walk away with an offer. I just felt like a couple more months he’d accumulate another 10, 15 offers. But, he’s happy, so there’s no need to do that. He’s not one to chase offers just to have offers.
TT: Can you give us a scouting report, Coach? What does Brian bring to the table?
EH: Great route runner – one of the best I’ve seen in a long time. He’s able to sink his hips and change directions quickly, and gets out of his breaks fast. He’s a smooth athlete, so he doesn’t look like he’s running as fast as he really is. He’s got great ball skills; uniformly, from all the college coaches, they’ve talked about his ball skills and hand-eye coordination are some of the best they’ve seen. He’s also big and thick for a receiver, so he can battle corners and he’s hard to bring down. Lastly, he’s one of the hardest workers and highest character kids I’ve coached in the last 10 years. He’s an all-around exceptional football player.
TT: What about what he needs to work on to get even better? I know some question his speed and 40 time…
EH: Well, his 40 time is a sub-4.7. I question anybody that says they run a 4.4 at camps. I call everybody on that; there just aren’t kids running that fast. I think the NFL Draft has pointed out the numbers these kids are throwing around are flat-out lies. So, speed, I think Brian is as fast as you need him to be. I mean, he’s not that quick, twitchy receiver like some smaller guys; he’s a different type of receiver. He’s a big, strong young man.
As far as other things to work on, I think just being an assassin on the field and being able to make plays late in games. Also, just being a better leader for us. We’re going to force that leadership role on him, and so far he’s taking it and running with it.
TT: Speaking of leadership and character, Coach, Brian just seems like a very well-spoken, well-mannered, high-character kid. Is that how he is around his teammates and you guys?
EH: I think anybody that meets Brian likes him instantly. He has a great personality, and his parents wouldn’t have anything else. They demand that out of their children. He is a product of the environment he was raised in. He’s great around kids, his teammates and adults. He’s just a poised, polished young man for his age.
TT: Is Brian a guy who came into Hayfield and you identified him immediately, or did it take him some time to catch fire?
EH: Well, he came in as a quarterback and played there for us as a freshman. But I didn’t really think that was his natural position, so we put him at receiver the next year and he blossomed. He did a great job his sophomore season, and as a junior he came on as a top-five receiver in the DMV area.
Also, we always knew he was going to be a big-time athlete, but we didn’t know all the intangibles he was going to bring to the table – the leadership, the work ethic, things like that. Those were pleasant surprises and helped us build the culture here at Hayfield. He’s a big reason why we’ve been successful and will continue to be successful.
TT: Was there a moment you can point to where you said, ‘OK, this kid can play at the FBS level?’
EH: Yeah, his junior year, in a scrimmage, he caught a hitch route and just turned it up. He stiff-armed one kid, ran through three tackles, and scored from 40 yards out. That’s when we knew we had a big, physical, dominating receiver who could really bring it.
In the Big Ten, he’s going to be able to take the poundings, go against bigger corners and win, and he’s going to be a matchup problem. He’s just stronger, bigger and more physical than the kids he’ll face.
TT: What did you think about Coach Chris Beatty and the job the Maryland staff did with Brian?
EH: Ironically enough, I was a coach at Chris Beatty’s high school, so I’ve known him since he was 17. Coach Beatty is an excellent recruiter and position coach; I’m glad he recognized Brian’s talent. And my own son transferred from UNC to Maryland [Caleb Henderson], so I recognized early on what Maryland was doing under Coach DJ Durkin and the culture changes he’s making. It’s a great group up there.