Dalvin Cook has had a vivid dream of his football future.
It includes teammate Joseph Yearby.
And he has dreamed it more than once.
“In the dream, we’re in college and I’m running downfield, and Joe’s running, too,” Cook said. “I hear the crowd screaming our names. We’re both wearing [Nos.] 4 and 3 [like we are now]. I just can’t see the name of the school we’re playing for in the dream.”
Yearby and Cook, one of the best running back tandems in the country, won’t be sharing the same backfield in college if you go by their current verbal commitments.
Yearby is committed to the University of Miami.
Cook is committed to the University of Florida.
But it is likely Miami Central’s two superstar ball carriers won’t truly reveal whether they will team up on the college gridiron until February.
“We don’t have to go to college together but it would be a very good thing,” Cook said. “We put up very good numbers now in high school. Imagine us in college. We just say that February is a long time from now.”
Cook and Yearby plan to wage their private recruiting battles with each other all the way up to National Signing Day.
Senior offensive lineman Trevor Darling, a fellow UM commitment, takes Yearby’s side, while Cook gets some help from junior wide receiver Davonte Phillips, a recent UF commitment.
“I’m very committed to Miami, but I still might take some official visits to USF, USC, Florida and either Alabama or Louisville,” Yearby said.
For now, Yearby and Cook have their sights on winning a national championship before they go to college.
The talented duo combined for 2,900 rushing yards and 41 touchdowns with Cook running for only four more yards (1,452) than Yearby (1,448).
Cook and Yearby also doubled up on defense, becoming two reliable playmakers in the Rockets secondary that helped Central win its second state championship in three seasons last year.
The two expect more of the same this coming year.
“We’ve got a lot of excitement going into this season because we have high expectations of being national champions,” Yearby said. “My personal goal is to stay humble and keep being a team player.”
Yearby, who was originally committed to FSU before switching to UM, eclipsed the 2,000-yard mark his sophomore season, becoming the first player in Dade history to do so. Last season, he played safety and some quarterback, throwing two touchdown passes in key games.
Cook, who first committed to Clemson before changing his pledge to UF, returned a punt, interception and a kickoff for a touchdown last season.
The duo earned The Miami Herald’s Class 8A-6A Co-Offensive Players of the Year.
Sharing the spotlight has not been a problem for Cook and Yearby, who have become good friends off the field.
“The maturity that me and Joe have grown up to have, I just have to thank coach [Telly] Lockette for putting us together and helping us grow up together,” Cook said.
The two players flourished under Lockette, the former Central coach who left the Rockets after accepting a job as the running-backs coach at the University of South Florida.
Central hired former Northwestern coach Roland Smith before the spring. Smith, who guided Northwestern to a state title in 2006 and a state runner-up finish in 2001, knew many of the current players and had coached with Lockette and several of the current Central coaches in the past, making the transition a smooth one.
“This team has a lot of positive energy with Coach Smith just like it did with Coach Lockette,” said Darling said. “He fit right in and we didn’t miss a heartbeat.”
Making the change easier is the fact Central returns 10 starters on an offense that should rank among the nation’s best.
Yearby and Cook, joined by athletic quarterback Keith Reed, will be protected by a stellar offensive line anchored by Darling, Raul Diaz and Michael Smith.
Phillips is regarded as one of the top juniors in the nation, and few could argue after some of the spectacular catches he made last season.
The defense got off to a slow start last season, but don’t expect that this year with a secondary led by seniors Deatrick Nichols, Jonathan Harris and Calvin Brewton. Up front, seniors Twan Adams and Frederick Jones should provide leadership for a young core of linebackers until they gain experience.
A national title could be in the works if Central can stay unbeaten after a tough regular-season schedule that features games against Plantation American Heritage, Booker T. Washington, Don Bosco Prep (N.J.) early on and matchups with neighborhood rival Northwestern and Davie University School later in the season.
Cook and Yearby hope to wrap up that business and then make their final decisions on if they will take their act to the next level together or run solo.
“I might shock people down here,” Cook said. “I’m not changing [my commitment] again. I feel like [UF] can get me ready for where I need to be in the future. Phillips steps into the picture, and he doesn’t let it happen.”
Yearby said: “I see us together wherever we end up going.”