Hunter Cobb: From Practice Squad to Breakout Star

Playing Division I Football has always been a dream for redshirt freshman Hunter Cobb but he didn’t begin playing organized football until he was in the seventh grade. “I always wanted to play but my mom wouldn’t let me but finally, in seventh grade, she let me,” Cobb said.

Prior to Marist, Cobb had one goal. “To play as soon as I can,” he said. That goal had taken longer than Cobb had originally hoped as he was redshirted last season. It was during that time that Cobb got his “Welcome to Division I Football” moment. “I was on the scout team and I was messing around trying to cut back and Big Willie [Barrett] cleaned me so hard and I was thought to myself ‘this is for real’,” Cobb said. “There are people in the Pioneer Football League that are bigger, faster and stronger than you so you always have to go harder.”

Cobb has been the breakout star on a Red Fox offense that hasn’t seen much success this season. Over the past four games, the running back rushed for 535 yards and nine touchdowns on just 82 attempts and leads the team with 11 running touchdowns on the season. During this span, Cobb is averaging an astonishing 6.5 yards per carry and 133.8 rushing yards per game.

After Mekhai Johnson got injured in Week 4 against Drake, Coach Jim Parady then turned to #45. Prior to Johnson’s injury, Cobb had 22 carries for 46 yards and two touchdowns in his first six games of the season and in Cobb’s first two games after replacing Johnson, he rushed for only 28 yards and one touchdown. Then, the tables began to turn as Cobb rushed for 178 yards and scored two touchdowns at Davidson and he has been off to the races ever since.

“I haven’t got that many opportunities so when the time came, I had to make sure I seized the moment,” Cobb said. 

Since becoming the starting running back, Cobb’s preparation and mentality hasn’t changed. “I just do me basically. I still do the same thing at practice trying to be the best I can possibly be and still grind and work hard everyday. I practice how I play in games, that’s what I try to do. That’s what I do every single time,” he said.

Marist hosted Jacksonville on senior day for their last home game of the season this past week. Cobb stole the show as he had 3 rushing touchdowns for the second time in the last three weeks and added a game high 251 yards to his name. It took two overtimes to declare a winner in this high scoring affair. In the second overtime, Calvin Turner Jr., Jacksonville’s quarterback, ran the ball in for a 10-yard touchdown to give his team a 52-45 lead. Marist was then given the ball in what would be the game’s final possession. Following a 4-yard gain by Cobb, Marist had a 1st and goal. Quarterback Austin Day then handed the ball off to Cobb who fumbled it at the 1-yard line. “I have to be better at protecting the ball,” Cobb said. Jacksonville’s Kyree Woods was able to recover the fumble to end the game as the Dolphins defeated the Red Foxes in a thrilling 52-45 double overtime matchup. This loss ultimately ended Marist’s season as they dropped to 3-4 in the PFL standings, with just one game left.

Cobb has already moved on from the tough loss as he now has Valparaiso on his mind. This week the focus in practice has been about execution. “We want to execute plays to the fullest extent so we can get a win for the last game,” Cobb exclaimed. Cobb and his teammates want to send their seniors out with a win in the final game of the season. That should be attainable as the Valparaiso Crusaders (1-10) has given up 192.7 yards per game on the ground this season and Cobb is sure to take out his frustrations against a team with a weak run defense.

After their last game against Valparaiso, it is back to the drawing board for Cobb and the Red Foxes. “After the game, day one [of the offseason] starts. We’ll start on Sunday and everyday after that we’ll keep preparing,” he said. Cobb has big goals that he hopes to accomplish during his time with the Red Foxes as he wants “to bring a ring” back to Tenney Stadium.

Cobb would frequently reference “seize the moment” and it appears that that is exactly what he has done with the opportunity that he was given.

Edited by Alex Azarm

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