Dalvin Cook helped lead Miami Central High to a state championship last season. On Saturday, the freshman running back was thrust into a starting role for Florida State on an even larger stage — the Atlantic Coast Conference Championship Game.
Cook, who is threatening to break FSU’s freshman rushing record, received the starting nod after Karlos Williams was forced to sit out with a concussion. And he put on a first-half show, gaining 99 yards, including a touchdown, on 14 carries.
“Dalvin’s just getting better and better as each week goes by,” FSU senior center Cameron Erving said. “He’s a dynamic player. He can break tackles. He’s fast. He’s elusive. There are not enough positive things you can say about Dalvin.”
Cook entered Saturday’s game against Georgia Tech with 728 rushing yards, the second-highest total by a freshman in FSU history. Greg Allen with 888 yards in 1981 holds the mark.
Although Cook has given the Seminoles a boost, Central’s fortunes haven’t changed with his departure. Central won its Class 6A semifinal game Friday night to reach the state championship game for a fifth consecutive year.
Cook’s brother, Jamel, intercepted a pass in that game, and a cousin, Anthony Jones, rushed for 123 yards and three touchdowns.
“I’ve been with him all my life, and he’s taught me to always give it all I’ve got,” Jones told the Miami Herald following Central’s 31-21 victory over Daytona Beach Mainland.
Cook originally committed to Clemson, switched to Florida and eventually landed at Florida State.
“He’s still got a ways to go,” FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said, “but he’s developed himself in all the phases.”
The Seminoles practiced at night last week in order to accommodate quarterback Jameis Winston, who was involved with his student conduct hearing during the day.
The practices went so well, Fisher said, that he might continue scheduling them under the stars.
“We found out as coaches we like it better, and we may change full time to a night practice,” Fisher said. “We may have fallen into something here for our team that is very beneficial. Our kids actually had the best week of practice we’ve had all year. We got more rest during the day and more prep time, so it ended up working out pretty good.”
For those who have knocked Florida State’s 28-game winning streak over the belief the Seminoles don’t play in a stronger conference, Fisher had this to say: “I feel sorry for them.”
“They don’t understand ball,” Fisher bristled. “Our league is a great league. We played SEC people, Big 12 people. We’ve played everybody. We’ve won bowl games, won championships, won everything you can win. People that are covering ball don’t understand ball.”
THIS AND THAT
▪ Fisher said doesn’t know Jim McElwain very well.
But the Florida Gators’ new coach has Fisher’s respect.
“I don’t know him — I don’t know him personally very well,” Fisher said of McElwain, who was hired last week by UF to replace Will Muschamp. “But I think he’s a heck of a coach. I think he’ll do a great job. He’s been really successful turning around Colorado State and was at Alabama and had a lot of success there as the offensive coordinator.”
▪ Rashad Greene (Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas) set the Seminoles’ single-single reception record when he came down with his 87th catch in Saturday’s second quarter.
Greene capped off the same drive with a 44-yard touchdown reception.