Dalvin Cook started his time as a Seminole the same way he lived it, and the same way he ended it — breaking hearts.
Cook, a five-star recruit out of Miami Central, had initially committed to Clemson as a sophomore before flipping to Florida in April 2013.
Here’s a fun trip down memory lane, via Alligator Army:
In flipping Dalvin Cook, Muschamp landed a running back who creates a ridiculous backfield in 2014, struck a blow deep in the heart of Miami, flipped a stud from a perennial recruiting trail rival, and gave Florida fans a big, juicy hunk of news to gnaw on after giving them a lackluster spring “game.”
This is a message on two levels: 1) After getting beat for more than a few players by Clemson, Florida has turned the tide and 2) If Florida wants you, being committed to that other school doesn’t mean a damn to Will Muschamp.
That commitment lasted all of eight months, four which included Cook watching Florida put up a 4-8 record as Florida State casually produced the most prolific scoring offense in college football history en route to winning a national championship.
When he announced his switch on Dec. 31, he said that the choice boiled down to a “business decision,” and from that point on, Dalvin Cook was a man on a mission.
He immediately took the field for the defending national champions in 2014, though he only registered 24 carries in the Seminoles first five games, 13 of which came against FCS-level Citadel.
Against Syracuse though, he stepped in for then-starter Karlos Williams and carried the ball 23 times, putting up 122 yards and a score. He’d have an average game against Notre Dame, but against Lousiville on Halloween night, he came into his own, establishing the mythology of Dalvin Cook, heartbreaker.
Down 31-28 against the Cardinals with under four minutes to go in the game, a winning streak and title hopes and an entire nation hoping to see Florida State fall, Cook showcased the speed that would become legend, taking off 38-yards for a touchdown and the last lead change of the game.
He was a beast unleashed from that point, relishing in another opportunity to poop on hearts when Florida State played Miami in Whatever Random Company Sponsored It in 2014 Stadium. He averaged 13.1 yards per carry, putting up 92 yards and two touchdowns, one of which rendered an entire defense immobilized.
He’d only put up one more touchdown for the rest of the season (along with 177 yards against Georgia Tech in the ACC Championship), but would total out to 1000 yards to end up with the most prolific freshman running back season in Florida State history. In the Rose Bowl was where he’d go over the 1000-yard mark but the moment was bittersweet; his determination would clash with this inexperience, leading him to lose two fumbles in the second half that he claimed lost the game for his team.
In 2015, Cook came into his own and became one-man scoring machine, putting the nation on notice with a 266-yard, three touchdown performance against South Florida in week two, a follow up to a 156-yard, two touchdown season debut. His single-game rushing total vs. the Bulls is the third-highest in Florida State history, behind his 267-yard performance vs. the Bulls in 2016 and Greg Allen’s 322 yards vs. Western Carolina in 1981.
Against Boston College the next week he’d get a little banged up, and the injury would hamper him for the rest of the season, leading to putting up just 1,691 yards and 19 touchdowns. He’d put up 269 total yards in a win vs. Miami, along with two rushing touchdowns and a receiving score, along with 194 yards and a score in a loss to Clemson and 183 yards and two touchdowns vs. Florida.
His junior season would be surrounded by Heisman hype, and though he answered relatively well with a 202 all-purpose yard performance in the season opener vs. Ole Miss, he didn’t truly kick things into second gear until South Florida came to Tallahassee to round out the home-and-home series. He’d put up 267 yards and two scores, one of which was a 75-yarder on the opening play, wowing future Florida State coach Willie Taggart and propping up a Seminoles program that was beginning to show crumbles in its infrastructure.
For the rest of the season, Cook would only have one game where he didn’t put up over 100 rushing yards, only one where he didn’t score a touchdown at all and two where he had four rushing touchdowns. One of those games was a herculean 169-yard effort vs. Clemson (where he scored touchdowns of 70 and 43 yards!) that came one dumb ACC ref short of propelling Florida State to an upset over the eventual national champions.
Everything would come full circle for Cook in his swan song, the 2016 Orange Bowl vs. Michigan, one day short of the three-year anniversary of his Florida State commitment. With 207 all-purpose yards off the back of 7.3 yards per carry and 20.7 yards per catch, Dalvin Cook was named MVP, and further added to the lore of his time in the garnet and gold.
In three seasons, Cook became the Florida State record holder of every single running back statistic except for single-season rushing touchdowns (Greg Allen is first with 20, Cook is No. 2 twice with 19) and single-game rushing yards (as mentioned above.) His 4,464 career rushing yards, 1,765 single-season (his 1,691 in 2015 is second), 46 career rushing touchdowns and two four single-game touchdown performances all sit in first in FSU’s record books. His impact was felt immediately following his departure, and it’s only furthered the evidence that Dalvin Cook, Florida State legend, was (and still is) a once-in-a-lifetime running back.