clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Dalvin Cook improving his versatility as a running back

The Florida State running back has furthered his game by developing as a receiving target.

North Carolina v Florida State Photo by Jeff Gammons/Getty Images

Florida State running back Dalvin Cook entered his junior season at FSU with nothing left to prove as a rusher.

He entered the 2016 season with 2,699 career rushing yards over two seasons, the fifth most in program history. Additionally, Cook was fresh off the single best season ever by a Florida State running back, which saw him finish with 1,691 yards, a school single-season record, and 19 touchdowns.

It was widely recognized based on his rushing ability alone that Cook would be a fairly high draft pick when his time as a Seminole came to an end, with him being projected as an early-to-mid first-round draft pick by multiple experts.

However, Cook’s game, as stellar as it has been, has always been lagging behind in one major area of RB play: his ability as a pass catcher out of the backfield. Over his first two seasons as a ‘Nole, Cook had a combined 447 receiving yards (203 in 2014, 244 last year) and one receiving touchdown on 46 catches.

This year, however, that has all changed. Cook’s season began with a 101 receiving-yard performance in the season opener against Ole Miss, his first time surpassing the 100-yard mark. Since then, Cook has had at least one catch in each game and saved his best dual-threat effort so far for Saturday’s North Carolina game. Against UNC, Cook added 120 receiving yards to his 140 rushing yards to make him the first Seminole to ever accumulate 100 rushing and 100 receiving yards in the same game.

Through five games this season, Cook has amassed 286 receiving yards, more than he had in either of his first two seasons.

This is not to say that his receiving efforts have taken away from his carries in any way. Cook has bounced back from a slow start, at least by his standards, to have 635 rushing yards, fifth most in the country, and seven rushing touchdowns, tied for seventh most in the NCAA. However, his increased targets as a receiver have taken his game to another level entirely.

Cook leads all FBS players in yards from scrimmage with 921 combined rushing and receiving yards. In fact, it’s not especially close as the player with the second most, Middle Tennessee State’s I’Tavius Mathers, has 849. Cook is also among the leaders in all-purpose yards nationwide. His 921 all-purpose yards is third most among FBS players, trailing two players who each have upwards of 400 yards from kick and punt returns. Putting in into further perspective, Cook’s year has been so impressive to date that he has amassed more all-purpose yards than 2015 Heisman finalist Christian McCaffrey, who has over 200 of his 858 all-purpose yards from his returning duties.

Now, it’s worth addressing that Cook’s receiving yards to this point could be viewed as a condemnation of Florida State’s receiving corps. After all, Cook has more receiving yards than all but one FSU receiver, senior Bobo Wilson who leads the team with 340 receiving yards.

However, that’s not Cook’s problem. Cook has simply taken advantage of the opportunity afforded him by a new quarterback who is more willing to throw the ball his way to make his game significantly more well-rounded. In what is almost assuredly his last season of college football, that can only improve upon his impressive game tape which will be seen by scouts and NFL front office personnel after his time at Florida State has come to an end.