MORGANTOWN — When Steve Dunlap went to watch Shaw High School in Cleveland play football, the West Virginia University assistant coach in charge of safeties had his head turned by a player who most coaches would have taken one look at and walked away from.
The world of college football isn’t interested in 5-foot-11, 179-pound defensive ends.
That is what Darwin Cook was in those days, but Dunlap saw something far different.
Being the safety coach and having brought along the likes of Robert Sands and Sidney Glover and so many other defensive players at West Virginia over the years, he saw a kid who was both quick and fast, a kid who was athletically gifted, a kid who enjoyed hitting.
And he saw one other thing, perhaps the most important trait that a player can have.
“He’s a kid who wants to be somebody,” Dunlap said.
Darwin Cook is not a name you heard a lot about, unless you spoke privately with Dunlap, who was in love with what he has prior to his coming out party in the Gold-Blue Spring Game, in which he had six tackles, most of them tooth rattling.
He came to WVU last year knowing nothing about the safety position and really didn’t learn a whole lot as he spent his time on the scout team, running other teams’ defenses.
That and gaining weight, having put on 30 pounds since arriving in Morgantown.
“I didn’t even see the weight, until I stepped on the scale,” Cook said.
The weight was necessary, but Dunlap said it took him a while to get used to carrying it on the field.
The first question for Cook is to ask him what was a kid who lacked size doing at defensive end in high school, especially one who was such a good athlete that he was a 600-meter champion, played running back and also punted.