The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

College Sports

May 2, 2010

The legend of WVU’s Darwin Cook continues to grow

MORGANTOWN — Like a tale out of the Wild West, the legend of West Virginia defensive back Darwin Cook continues to grow.

Once had 19 sacks in a game.

Gained 37 pounds in less than a year in Morgantown and retained his sprinter’s speed.

Once played in a pickup baseball game and was so fast that he punched the third baseman in the catcher’s mouth when scoring a run.

OK, most of that is not true.

He did not have 19 sacks in a game, though he did have eight in a game once.

He did gain 37 pounds at WVU, going from 173 to 210, but he has since taken off a few of those pounds and says he isn’t quite as quick as he once was, but he’s getting there.

And I don’t even know if he’s ever played a pickup baseball game.

But the true story behind Cook sounds nearly as fictitious.

Cook, a rising star at WVU, played defensive end and wide receiver at Shaw High School in East Cleveland. He also punted and returned kicks.

He was a sprinter who was supposed to win a state title his senior year, till he was sidelined by hamstring injuries.

He never had any formal coaching at defensive end.

“They just told me to put my hand on the ground and get the quarterback,” the 5-foot-11, 205-pound Cook said. “So that’s what I did.”

He is that athletic.

And he never had any formal training in watching film.

“We didn’t do that,” Cook said.

Before he made a college choice, WVU defensive backs coach Steve Dunlap saw a safety.

“His size and his speed,” Dunlap said. “I enjoyed going up to Shaw and watching him play. He had no background (in playing defensive back) whatsoever. But the kid wanted to play, he wanted to play well. And he wants to be somebody.”

Cook is now a big believer in watching tape. And teammates.

He is a shadow of Sidney Glover and Robert Sands at defensive backs.

He credits Glover with being a mentor.

“The coaches told me to watch those guys and that’s what I’ve been doing,” Cook said. “I follow everything Sidney does. If he karaokes, than I karaoke just like he does.”

Cook certainly looks like the next great defensive back.

“He’s never been coached by a Division I coach before,” head coach Bill Stewart said. “When you have Steve Dunlap, who is one of the best defensive coaches in America, and you look at what he’s done in the last couple years with Robert Sands and Sidney Glover, I can see Darwin Cook falling into that same category.”

In Friday’s Gold-Blue game, Cook had five tackles for the Gold and a bone-jarring hit and pass break-up when he moved to the Blue (starters) unit in the second half.

“I just want to make the most of this opportunity,” Cook said. “When I came here, I knew nothing. Absolutely nothing. But the coaches have me on the right track. I just have to keep learning and everything will fall into place.”

And if the early predictions are correct, it won’t be a tall tale.

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