Cosby Now Putting DBs Into A Quan-Dary

His teammates call him "old man" but Quan Cosby is not your typical freshman. After all, the 22-year old FL logged his first start for No. 2 Texas last weekend against Kansas when others in his recruiting class took their last bow at DKR on Senior Day. Now, his collegiate career -- once put on-hold four years ago for baseball -- has been put on the fast-track as the Horns cap the regular season at Texas A&M Friday.

Make that real fast. Coaches say Cosby is every bit as speedy as WR/RB Ramonce Taylor, once clocked at a 4.23. Cosby's recent emergence has given coaches the luxury of moving Taylor to the backfield once FL Brian Carter (knee) was held out of the starting lineup just when ankle injuries continued to nag RBs Jamaal Charles and Selvin Young. Taylor has been Texas' leading rusher the past two ballgames while the "old man" has been leaving many of the young whippersnappers in his dust.

The novelty of being an older-than-average freshman is starting to wear off, as has some of the rust of making the transition from minor league baseball to Division-I college football.

"It was pretty weird coming back, being 22, and going up against younger guys," Cosby laughed. "In a way, I saw what it might have felt like as a baseball player who had been there for a while and then to have younger guys coming and pushing you. At the same time, it was awesome to share my story and meet the (teammates). We're always going to compete out there, but they're responsible for a lot of the success I've had as far as how fast I came back and getting re-adjusted to the game."

Cosby' 64-yard TD reception in the first quarter against the Jayhawks was his second in as many weeks and a career-long. His coming-out party can be traced to the previous Saturday at Baylor. That's when he fought his way into the end zone against two defenders to notch a 55-yard scoring reception in the third quarter. In many ways, his first collegiate TD grab marked the culmination of a long transition back to the program from which he accepted a scholarship offer in 2001.

A second-team USA Today selection at quarterback, the Mart, Texas product was expected to sign with the same recruiting class as Butkus Award-winning WLB Derrick Johnson and Doak Walker-winning RB Cedric Benson. Yet, the Anaheim Angels made Cosby their sixth round pick of the 2001 draft and he jumped at the chance to play professional baseball.

"It was all about the opportunity to play a sport you love as your profession," Cosby said. "There's a lot of people in this world who look for that opportunity, and who would take advantage of that opportunity if given it."

Tales of the minor league -- ranging from low salaries to marathon bus rides -- have become the stuff of legend. But Cosby insists it wasn't half bad. Following one year in the Rookie League of the Anaheim farm system, he played outfield with the Provo Angels in 2002 before finishing with the Cedar Rapids Kernels.

"Baseball was a lot of fun and I got to go to a lot of states and I met a lot of different people," Cosby said. "Of course, the bus rides were a different story. Other than that, everything about it was fun."

Well, nearly everything. By the time Cosby reported to his fourth spring training at Arizona earlier this year, he sensed something was missing.

"My heart just wasn't there," Cosby said. "My heart was totally on football. To do something with your heart not into it is not the way I do it. Baseball was a lot of fun but my heart wasn't totally there. I have a lot more passion for football and that's why I made the decision."

There were times when he lived vicariously through those who would have been his teammates. Texas coaches didn't always know it but Cosby would purchase tickets to Longhorn games in order to blend in with the crowd and soak up the environment.

"I came to games every year during my off-season," Cosby told me. "Man, you can't beat the college football atmosphere. What I wanted to experience, more than anything, was just to be in that environment."

It had been four years since he touched a football but, one day Cosby's heart told him to pick up a phone and ask Texas coach Mack Brown if he still had a scholarship for him.

"Sure," Brown replied.

Given his pedigree and blink-and-you-miss-him speed, there were plenty of murmurings last August that Cosby might become the deep-ball threat that was missing from Texas' arsenal in 2004. But, first, there was not only the adjustment of returning to the college game but also the transition from QB to WR.

"I definitely felt rusty when I came back and, when the season started, I felt game-rusty," he said. "We practice at a pretty high level but it takes a few games to get back into it."

Cosby was just starting to 'get back into it' when he suffered a shoulder injury against Rice on September 17. It was a minor setback but, during that time, he found allies in an unlikely source: the Longhorn secondary. Texas DBs informed Cosby that he was telegraphing his routes and then offered him unsolicited advice on how to, well, burn them deep. Now, it's starting to pay off against Longhorn opponents -- and not just at WR.

Cosby stepped in as one of Texas' primary kick returners against Texas Tech last month when CBs Aaron Ross and Tarell Brown were held out of special teams play in order to conserve energy to defend the Red Raiders' top-rated passing offense. Cosby returned three punts for 68 yards, including a 38-yard return that set up Texas on the Tech 8-yard line, trailing 7-3 in the first quarter. The Horns regained the lead and never trailed again. Cosby also made his first career KO return and brought it back 30 yards. His 11-yard reception gave him 109 all-purpose yards for the day.

"Coach Brown and (WR) Coach (Bobby) Kennedy all believed in me," Cosby said of his biggest return of 2005 -- his transition back football.

Presumably, he'll make believers of opposing coaches and players as well.

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