Florida Gators To James Cook: ‘Start Your Own Legacy’

    Florida assistant coach JaJuan Seider is recruiting 5-star running back James Cook and is trying to sell the blue-chip prospect on getting out of Dalvin Cook's shadow.

    February 15, 2017

    Florida assistant coach JaJuan Seider is recruiting 5-star running back James Cook and is trying to sell the blue-chip prospect on getting out of Dalvin Cook’s shadow. 

    It’s never easy when your older sibling is successful. Sure, you love to see him (or her) do well, but it can make your own life that much more difficult.

    When your older brother is Dalvin Cook, that effect can be intensified. James Cook just finished watching his big brother break record after record at Florida State. And, in April, he’ll watch Dalvin walk across a stage, shake Roger Goodell’s hand and be announced as a first-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft — probably.

    That’s the string new Florida running backs coach JaJuan Seider is pulling on as he continues to recruit James Cook.

    “His message was come be the starting running back and come start my own legacy at UF,” James Cook told 247Sports of Seider’s pitch. 

    Once upon a time, Dalvin Cook spurned the Gators in favor of the Seminoles. Now, Florida is trying to get James Cook to do the reverse. The 5-star prospect is ranked as the No. 4 running back and No. 25 overall player in the CI 25 recruiting rankings for the 2018 class. And he was one of the first prospects Seider called when he officially joined Jim McElwain’s coaching staff.

    In the short amount of time Seider has spent in Gainesville, he’s already developed a solid foundation with Cook.

    “We talk every day. I mean, he’s a very good coach, he’s going to keep it real with you. Every aspect, he’s going to tell you what you do right and what you do wrong, and things like that,” Cook said.

    The work being put in by Seider has helped the Gators secure a spot on the talented halfback’s list of official visits this upcoming fall. In addition to Florida, Cook also plans on visiting Georgia, Oregon and USC. The Trojans are an interesting team to keep an eye on because Jamel Cook, James’ cousin, signed with Clay Helton’s team out of the 2016 recruiting class.

    Currently, it appears as though the race will come down to Florida and FSU. Cook has gone on record that, right now, he’s 100-percent committed, though he left the door open by saying he’s “open and free for anybody.”

    No need to look for a decoder ring. We can break that down easily.

    Surely, the 5-star running back had all intentions of honoring his commitment to the ‘Noles when he committed in March. However, that was before Florida State went out and signed three of the nation’s top tailbacks in the 2017 class: Cam Akers (5-star), Khalan Laborn (4-star) and Zaquandre White (4-star).

    As much as Cook would love to wear garnet and gold on Saturdays for the next three to four years, no one can ignore a depth chart. It would weigh on any player’s mind, and is a legitimate factor when signing a National Letter of Intent. When Dalvin Cook arrived in Tallahassee, he had an opportunity to play right away. That won’t be the case for James Cook if he signs with FSU.

    Florida, Oregon and USC can offer more early reps than the Seminoles can. By the time James Cook is ready to begin his collegiate career, the Gators will be without Jordan Scarlett and Mark Thompson. Lamical Perine will be gearing up for his junior season. Plus, both Malik Davis and Adarius Lemons will be in their second seasons — barring transfers or unforeseen circumstances.

    The Ducks will be starting a new era without Royce Freeman, and USC might be doing the same without Ronald Jones II.

    Of course, FSU might have some roster turnover as well, but most expect Akers to be the bell-cow back Dalvin Cook was. So, even in the extreme event where Laborn and White end up transferring, we’d still probably see Akers demand 25-plus carries a game.

    That’s not an ideal situation for a halfback of James Cook’s caliber.

    So, while FSU fans are staring at a stocked depth chart with glazed eyes, don’t bank on Cook following in his older brother’s footsteps. As much as he might want to do so, things don’t always work out as originally planned.

    MORE: 4-Star OT Williams Barnes Ranks Florida Among Top Schools


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