Dalvin Cook has seen his former Miami Central teammate Devonta Freeman help Florida State earn a No. 1 ranking this season with the potential to play for a BCS National Championship.
Two of Cook’s closest friends whom he currently plays with, fellow running back Joseph Yearby and offensive lineman Trevor Darling, are committed to the University of Miami and joining him on an official visit to the school on Saturday and Sunday.
And then there’s the University of Florida, where Cook has been orally committed to since April, but is currently looking for an offensive coordinator after being decimated by injuries and finished this season ranked 113th out of 125 Football Bowl Subdivision schools in scoring.
Cook’s recruitment has become the most intriguing saga in high school football recruiting this season in Florida. Despite being committed to UF, Cook has remained open to the courting from schools around the country — and it has gotten even more hectic with his plans to enroll in school in January.
Cook, rated the second-best running back in the nation by 247Sports, is down to three and would like to make a final decision on where to play college football after Central’s Class 6A state title game against Seffner Armwood next Saturday in Orlando. The spring 2014 semester begins on Jan. 6 at UF and FSU, while UM begins classes on Jan. 13.
“I’m just trying to weigh my options right now,” Cook said after Central’s win over Daytona Beach Mainland on Friday at Traz Powell Stadium. “I’m just trying to see where I fit in at and see where my heart is really at, and see the coaches I’m really comfortable with.
“Florida is my school. That’s what I always tell people: I’m always still committed to Florida. I ain’t never decommit because Florida is still in my heart right now. I’m still a Gator and that’s my school.”
In recent weeks, it seemed like the Gators have fell behind significantly for Cook’s services thanks to the full-court presses he has received from the FSU and UM.
The Seminoles have an offense in place with a familiar face in Freeman to share the backfield, and the allure of playing with Heisman Trophy favorite Jameis Winston for at least a season. On the other hand, the Hurricanes are on the rise after its run in with the NCAA, equipped with a 2014 recruiting class that could be one of UM’s best ever, and familiar faces like Yearby, Darling and brother Deandre Burnett, who plays on the UM basketball team.
In the past week, Cook has signed financial grant-in-aid applications with UM, FSU and UF, guaranteeing a fulfilled scholarship without the binding nature National Letters of Intent provide. The applications, however, allow those schools to have unlimited contact with a player, and college coaches may publicly discuss said player with media.
Cook had in-home visits with coaches from UM, UF, and LSU last week, and plans to meet with coaches from UM, UF, FSU, Texas and Arkansas this week.
As things are heating up and becoming more confusing for Cook, he’s trying to enjoy the recruiting process for the time being before figuring out where his heart truly lies and making a decision.
“I’m going to sit down with my parents and some of my teammates and we’re going to have a big discussion,” Cook said, naming Yearby, Darling, senior cornerback and USF commit Deatrick Nichols, and junior wide receiver and UF commit Da’Vante Phillips. Phillips plans on attending the same school as Cook.
“I’m just going to talk it over with them and we’re going to see.”
In the meantime, Cook hopes to enjoy his official visit to UM, spending time with the current players, observing practice, seeing his brother and experiencing the UM campus.
But come decision time, Cook knows he will have undying support from family members and his proclaimed brothers in Yearby, Darling, Freeman and Homestead wide receiver and UF commit Ermon Lane even though they may not agree with the school he attends.
“I’m really not [disappointing anyone] because ain’t nobody going to be in the dorm [with me] or at practice,” Cook said. “I’m not really disappointing [anybody]. I’m going to be disappointing myself if I make a bad choice.
“I just want to really make sure I’m making the right choice for me,” Cook reiterated. “And these next 3-4 years are going to decide the next 40 years of my life so I just want to really make sure that’s the right choice so I’m really going to make my decision and say it’s final.”