Geronimo, the Native American leader who defended his tribe against United States encroachment, is credited with the quote "Tis better to have lightning in your hands than thunder in your mouth."
Fullback Jason Cook personifies this wise statement. However, when the Georgia native does speak, it is usually something full of thought and worth hearing.
The fifth-year senior completed his degree requirements this past May and is set to enjoy his final year of football eligibility under his third different coaching regime – and a backfield that looks much different than just a season ago.
The pecking order in the Rebels' backfield is unsettled, but no matter the winner, Ole Miss' tailback will line up with zero career starts. Quarterback Jevan Snead is without starting experience also.
Cook has occupied his fullback spot on 20 opening drives in his career, so the intelligent and talented blocker should be able to pass along experience-laden instructions with ease. But while he will always answer any inquiries, Cook is one to lead by example – on the field and off it.
"I am myself, I'm not a very vocal guy a lot of the time," Cook said. "But in order for people to respect you, they must respect who you are first and what you do second. In a lot of ways, I let the way I play, the way I carry myself, the way I live my life speak for itself. I live it instead of barking it all the time."
Five different backs are entertaining thoughts of significant playing time for Ole Miss. Cordera Eason and Derrick Davis, both Juniors, have been around two years with limited action, while freshmen Enrique Davis, Devin Thomas and Brandon Bolden have already displayed the necessarily skill set to be productive in Division I football.
Even though it is minimal, Cook sees the experience of Derrick Davis and Eason as important.
"Cordera and Derrick have been back there for a couple years," Cook said. "It is sparingly, but there is a little experience, and with the lack of experience, even the little bit means something."
With both returnees taking in spring drills, the advantage was apparent on the depth chart and repetitions as fall camp began. But the competition has since tightened with the newcomers getting their feet wet and becoming more comfortable.
Cook has been optimistic and impressed by the work ethic of the freshmen.
"They are fast, quick and very good learners. It is great competition, and I am excited watching them battle back and forth for the starting spot.
"Practice is so important to see how a person handles himself day in and day out. That is a lot more important than how they perform in one game. Tough situations in practice directly correlate to how a person will handle tough situations in games."
Cook also thinks the ideal staff is in place to help the Rebels handle those difficult situations. The coaching methods have harbored a family environment and given the team motivation to succeed.
When did Cook first realize Nutt was the right person for the position?
"First day he stepped on campus. When he spoke to us, you could tell he was genuine in what he wanted for us. Genuine in his feelings for us. Most people bought in that day. I always heard Coach Nutt's players would run through a wall for him, and I see that now. Somebody gives you so much. Why not go that extra mile for them?"
Cook has no lingering disregard with the previous administration, but he notes a significant difference in the day to day.
"It is a definite change. College football is supposed to be a lot of fun, and for a long time, college football felt like a job. These guys, myself included, love to come and work now. It is because of the way these coaches treat us. They treat us like family, like we are their sons. That makes us perform better. It is a change and a difference.
"This is my third head coach, and I followed the coaching change so closely when (David) Cutcliffe left, got caught up in it. This time I just said ‘it is what it is, que sera sera. I prayed about it, and was rewarded, we all were."
Backfield Experience Limited to Cook
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