Florida State University

FSU’s Dalvin Cook makes seamless return

Florida State running back Dalvin Cook, center, is surrounded by reporters during the team's media day Monday, Dec. 29, 2014, in Los Angeles.
Florida State running back Dalvin Cook, center, is surrounded by reporters during the team's media day Monday, Dec. 29, 2014, in Los Angeles. AP

Jimbo Fisher didn’t want the play-by-play of Dalvin Cook’s trial on Monday; he just wanted to know when it was over.

So when he received the phone call while watching film with his assistants, he leaned back in his chair, exhaled and told them, “it’s official.”

His staff then let out a roar that would have defied the judge’s orders had they been sitting in the courtroom.

“The calls were too frequent, every 10-15 minutes,” Fisher said. “I said just tell me when significant things happened — when they’re starting to deliberate.”

Cook was reinstated to the football team soon after he was found not guilty of misdemeanor battery Monday by a jury that needed less than 20 minutes to reach a verdict. On Tuesday, he walked onto the practice field for the first time this season.

“Everybody was happy to see him out there,” defensive end DeMarcus Walker said. “That guy has some wheels. [I had to] tell him to ‘slow down, you fresh, we’re not fresh.’”

After the team stretch, Cook ran though the running back drills with the quarterbacks, taking handoffs, tosses and going out on pass routes before the backs broke off for their own drills.

Fisher was impressed with his conditioning, how he stayed prepared while serving a suspension that lasted 45 days. Cook was thrown into all the drills and split first-team reps with Mario Pender.

“He was training on his own and going to his workouts,” Fisher said. “He obviously showed that he had been doing it.”

Fullback Freddie Stevenson was impressed with Cook’s physique.

“He’s rocked up,” Stevenson said. “The speed is going to [be] there. He’s added a little muscle.”

Cook said the last six weeks were difficult, “not knowing what your future is going to be like.” And although Cook claimed his innocence throughout the process and FSU officials were confident he would be exonerated, the fear that something could go wrong always was present.

Fisher tried to keep Cook’s spirits buoyed.

“We talked about things, like ‘you’ve got to let things run their course,’” Fisher said. “If you’re truthful and honest, that’s what you have to stick with. But it’s very tough — mentally because you never know how those things are going to turn out. Unfortunately, that’s just sort of how life is sometimes. Hopefully, he’ll learn from that lesson and move on.”

Cook now joins a backfield that becomes a team strength. He will regain his starting spot after becoming the first freshman in school history to rush for 1,000 yards last season, finishing with a team-high 1,008.

But his absence allowed Pender, a redshirt junior, to run with the first team and freshman Jacquez Patrick and sophomore Johnathan Vickers to see additional reps.

And Fisher feels even better now that the leader of the group is back on the field.