Where’s James Cook in all the talk about Georgia running backs?

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James Cook ranks as the nation's No. 35 overall propect for 2018.

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Discussions regarding UGA’s running back situation seem to be centered on the loss of Chubb and Michel, speculation on how soon Zamir White will contribute, or Swift becoming the featured back.  We don’t hear much about James Cook, the No. 3-rated back in the nation. Seems like Swift arrived under similar circumstances, not much fanfare. Yet, it was evident the coaching staff thought he could contribute immediately. I’m interested in your take on James Cook and the role you think he’ll play in 2018.

— John Wilson, Columbia, S.C.

Thanks for your question, John, and it’s a great one. In fact, it’s something I’ve wondered about myself. Not only is Cook highly rated, as you point out, but he happens to be the brother of Dalvin Cook, an NFL player and college All-American who is the all-time leading rusher in Florida State history. Being brothers and having similar physical traits, one would think they would have similar prospects in college. The bottom line is that Cook’s addition is simply a case of Georgia’s rich tailback tradition getting richer.

First, let’s get some facts straight. Cook is ranked No. 3 in America, but that is in the category of “all-purpose” backs and not overall. Hence, his 4-star composite rating as opposed to a 5-star rating, such as what Zamir White carries.

I can’t find much in the way of statistics on him. UGA’s profile lists only those from his senior season at perennial Florida powerhouse Miami Central, which are 782 yards and 10 touchdowns on 91 rushes and 8 catches for 86 yards. He also played defensive back for the Rockets and finished with 3 interceptions and 2 defensive touchdowns. He was an U.S. Army All-American and scored 2 touchdowns in that game.

Cook reportedly also is supposed to be extremely fast, and seems to have only gotten faster this spring. Word is that he ran a 10.55-second 100 meters at a relay event this year. Georgia currently has him listed as 5-foot-11, 183 pounds, but DawgNation recruiting reporter Jeff Sentell tells me he’s closer to 190 pounds. While Cook played ball for Miami Central, he transferred to Miami Northwestern after football season in order to enhance his academic credentials for gaining admittance to Georgia, which he is expected to.

Not knowing much more about Cook, I turned to Sentell for a little more insight. Sentell has visited with Cook and has stayed in touch with him throughout the recruiting process and since his signing in December. Sentell loves the kid and believes he’s going to go down as one of Georgia’s greats.

“He’s a guy who will make his living on screens and jet sweeps and even could play some in the slot,” Sentell said. “He’s not really a between-the-tackles guy, not right now anyway. But he was one of the more lightning-rod players at the Army All-America game. This is a case for Georgia where the rich get richer.”

Sentell called the Bulldogs getting Cook “a Dell McGee special” and made a incredibly bold statement when talking about what he believes the legacy will be for Cook and White together when we look back at their tenure 10 years down the road.

“When it’s all said and done and if they stay well health-wise, I believe they will have been a more effective, big-play duo than even [Nick] Chubb and [Sony] Michel,” Sentell said. “Now Chubb and Michel were able to sustain it. Keith Marshall and Todd Gurley, too. These guys are even higher-rated than them, and the offensive line in front of Cook and White is going to be a couple of notches better than those other guys enjoyed for the majority of their careers.”

That’s pretty high praise, indeed. Like you, John, I’m looking forward to seeing for myself.

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