He wasn’t even supposed to be an Oklahoma Sooner yet alone a true freshman starting at cornerback. But that’s where Parrish Cobb finds himself.
To be nice, it has been a process. A pure baptism by fire. Some good, a lot bad, nothing out of the ordinary when it comes to a teenager being asked to perform on the big stage against the likes of Houston and Ohio State in the first three weeks of the season.
Nobody cares how close Cobb is from making the leap. Watch the film from Houston to Ohio State, and you see a noticeable difference in awareness and space. What you don’t see is his head turned around when the ball’s in the air. What you don’t see is Cobb making a big-time defensive stop.
What you do see are touchdowns and plenty of them on the rookie. Everybody goes through the growing pains, but it doesn’t make the fact any easier for OU fans to swallow who had visions of national championship in their heads in August.
“I talk to Parrish a lot. He’s a real good kid,” junior safety Steven Parker said. “He’s gonna be great here at OU. I’ve talked to him plenty of times and just told him to keep his head up.
“He’s a freshman. I was in that situation plenty of times. Even when he got scored on those two times, I didn’t yell at him. I told him to keep his head and keep competing because that’s all you can do.”
OU has tried three different people at the spot opposite Jordan Thomas. And it’s not like Thomas has set the world on fire, either, being hit-and-miss in his limited opportunities.
There’s something about Cobb, though, that has the coaches gravitated toward the former Scout 300 prospect from Waco (Texas) La Vega.
Cobb committed to OU in August 2015 and was solid with the Sooners until a month before signing day and flipped to Baylor the day before signing day.
Once all the issues at Baylor were exposed with the leadership and sexual assault cases, Cobb was one of many top recruits to ask to find a new home. It was back to Norman.
He got in a little later than the rest of the class but went right to work. By the end of camp, the talk had been about the strides he had made and whether or not he would actually be good enough to earn the starting spot.
“He can get a lot better,” defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said. “He’s just scratching the surface. We’ve got a lot of players like that.”
But it has to happen now. Most knew, even if they didn’t want to admit it, there was going to be a significant learning curve once Zack Sanchez declared for the NFL Draft.
You weren’t just going to move smoothly into that transition. However, at OU, there is no time for excuses. No time to adjust. You’re expected to compete at the highest level immediately, and that’s not unfair when you start examining other top schools across the nation.
Cobb, like Dakota Austin after the Houston game, is going to have to fight back and persevere. The spot is open for anybody heading into Big 12 conference play.
"We look at everybody every day,” head coach Bob Stoops said. “We're not ignoring anyone, so yes, we'll continue to look for other players, but develop the ones we have as well. We weren't far off on several of those plays, we've just got to finish them, though. You've got to be able to finish.”
The last part is key. You can do everything right, but if you don’t knock that ball away or make an interception, the result is still the same. OU has faced some potent offenses in the first three weeks, but it’s about to get crazy in a heartbeat vs. the rest of the Big 12.
“I think a lot of people kind of know what our weakness has been so far,” Parker said. “It's nothing that's been hidden, especially coming from the first three games. We feel like once we get that position settled, we'll be great.”
The question remains when will that position get settled and whether or not Cobb happens to be the perfect piece to complete the puzzle.