MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Darwin Cook would like you to know something.He's more than a one-trick pony.He's more than a one-play safety, too.Sometimes that's easy to forget. After all, the biggest play Cook has made during his career as a West Virginia safety stands out above all the others. It was his scoop-and-score fumble return that, perhaps more than anything else, turned West Virginia's Orange Bowl game against Clemson season before last into the 70-33 rout that it became.
Of course, running into the Orange Bowl mascot at the end didn't hurt, either. Yeah, it hurt poor Obie, but it helped burn the image of Cook's return into the Mountaineer consciousness.The trouble is, Cook has become so closely tied to that one play that people tend to forget nearly everything else he's done."It's like you did all this great work and then you fall off a little bit and then it's like you were never there,'' Cook said. "Sometimes you just want to say, 'Hey, this is what I did,' just to show yourself that you can do it.''
So Cook did put together something that said, "Hey, this is what I did.'' Well, truth betold his girlfriend put it together — a highlight tape of some of Cook's best moments. It was posted on YouTube in the spring as an attempt to send a message: Hey, remember me?And here's the most telling thing about the video. It lasts five minutes and 38 seconds. It includes interceptions, pass breakups and big hits. And it's not until nearly five minutes have passed that first Cook is seen pulling the ball from a pile near the goal line at the Orange Bowl and running alongside Keith Tandy nearly 100 yards on the play that made him famous."It feels like nobody thinks I've done anything but the Orange Bowl,'' Cook said. "I wanted to put it together to show that I've made a lot of game-changing plays around here, not just the one play in the Orange Bowl.''
Well, Cook is back to making standout plays again. In West Virginia's opener Saturday against William & Mary he intercepted the fourth-quarter pass that finally, mercifully, sealed WVU's 24-17 win. That, along with the less-iconic plays he made, earned him the Mountaineers' defensive champion award.And that's exactly where he wanted to be after what could only be called a rocky spell between that Orange Bowl and now."Last year was not good,'' Cook admitted. "I had to get my mind right and my body right. And I've done that.''Indeed, 2012 was not the kind of encore performance Cook expected coming off that Orange Bowl. Yes, he was hurt at times last season and hates to admit that perhaps the Orange Bowl stardom went to his head. But for whatever reason, he didn't play well. Sometimes he didn't play at all.
And so he had the video made. It was as much to convince himself that he was a good football player as it was to convince anyone else. At first he said he just wanted to watch it himself and show his friends. But then it caught on and everyone was watching it.In fact, he had to make two videos when something happened to the first."The new one's much better,'' he said. "We cut out the cussing words.''He said Saturday after his interception against William & Mary that he wouldn't update the video just because of that one play. After all, he plans on making a lot of them as the season goes on.Of course, with the highlights out there, isn't there now pressure on Cook to live up to the hype?"No way,'' he said. "When I put the video together, it was from when I was hurt. In those plays I was hurt. In those plays I hadn't worked as hard as I have this year. I'm going to be way better than what I was last year.''
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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