Dalvin Cook dominated Florida. Now little brother James gets a chance to carry on family tradition in Cocktail Party
MINNEAPOLIS — A slight, knowing grin tugs at the corner of Dalvin Cook’s mouth as he recalls how much his younger brother used to look up to him.
It wasn’t uncommon for current Georgia running back James Cook to tag along for his older siblings’ youth football practices in Miami. Once they wrapped up, he’d steal one of their helmets and run around the park pretending he was Dalvin or oldest brother DeAndre Burnett.
“He always wanted to be like us,” Dalvin Cook said Wednesday. “Seeing him grow up into the man he’s grown up into today, it’s fun to watch.”
But some things never change.
With Dalvin in Minnesota vying for a second straight Pro Bowl and James seeing his role with the Georgia Bulldogs slowly expand, the younger Cook picks his brother’s brain any chance he gets. They talk multiple times per week, and whenever they’re together, they review each other’s film.
“I give him everything I’ve got in my toolbox; I empty it out to him and I give it to him,” Dalvin said. “Nobody pushes him as hard as I try to push him.”
It’s an arsenal that’s seen Dalvin emerge as one of the NFL’s top running backs. Florida fans know all too well how special Dalvin Cook is with the football.
His brother, meanwhile, is preparing for a ballyhooed rivalry of his own after seeing his touches increase the past couple of weeks.
James Cook, a 5-11, 190-pound junior, is Georgia’s No. 3 rusher and No. 2 receiver. He rushed 6 times and caught 4 passes for 101 total yards in a 14-3 win over Kentucky and was all over the field Oct. 17 against Alabama, finishing with 101 receiving yards and an 82-yard touchdown reception.
Cook is just now starting to look like the star many projected him to be in Athens. After flipping his commitment from Florida State — where Dalvin starred from 2014-16 after he flipped from Florida — the 4-star recruit had 284 yards on 41 carries as a freshman.
Last season, he started 3 games and averaged 6.1 yards per carry.
He has yet to make a mark against the Gators, however.
Fellow back Zamir White has emerged as a key part of the offense. But after stalling out at times against Kentucky, UGA could use another playmaker. And if the past 2 weeks are any indication, there’s room for Cook to excel in Todd Monken’s offense.
Luckily, Cook’s role model with the same last name knows a thing or two about rivalry games against Florida.
Dalvin Cook dominated the Gators all 3 times he faced them, averaging 160 rushing yards per game and 6.3 yards per carry.
The Seminoles won all 3 of those matchups. Georgia needs a similar outcome in order to keep its SEC championship and College Football Playoff hopes intact when the COVID-19 version of the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party commences Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET.
So what did Dalvin tell his younger brother this week?
“Embrace the challenge,” Dalvin said. “Embrace the rivalry. Live in the rivalry. Every time I [played in] a rivalry at Florida State, whether it was Miami, Florida, whatever it was, I lived in that moment. Because when they talk about this rivalry right here, when they talk about this game right here, I want my name to be mentioned in this one.
“You don’t get those chances back. That’s my message to him. Just live in that moment, embrace it, know what type of moment you in and just go attack it. Have fun.”