For three seasons, former Florida State Seminoles running back Dalvin Cook turned the Atlantic Coast Conference into a game of “catch me if you can.” The two-time Heisman Trophy candidate — he finished 7th and 10th his sophomore and junior seasons, respectively — rewrote the FSU football record books. School records for career rushing yards (4,464), career rushing touchdowns (46), single-season rushing yards (1,765 ranks 1st; 1,691 ranks 2nd), single-season rushing touchdowns (he scored 19 twice, tied for 2nd-most), and four of the top-10 single-game yardage totals belong to Mr. Dalvin Cook.
But when Cook stepped in the kitchen, his special ingredient was speed that no one on a college football field could match.
He went 74 yards for a touchdown run against South Florida as part of a 266-yard afternoon. (He hung 267 on the Bulls the following year, his career-high.) He went 72 yards for a score during his 222-yard performance against Miami. The next week, he scampered 54 yards as Florida State knocked off Lamar Jackson and Louisville. On the second play from scrimmage against No. 1 Clemson, Cook went right up the gut for a 75-yard touchdown.
That was just his 2015 season.
Dalvin Cook’s Florida State Highlights
Heading into what was ultimately his final year in Tallahassee, the Seminoles and head coach Jimbo Fisher had one goal: Beat Clemson. When the two teams met on October 29, 2016 at Doak Campbell Stadium, the Tigers were undefeated and ranked No. 3, while FSU ranked No. 12 despite two losses.
Florida State rode their Heisman Trophy candidate at tailback while quarterback Deondre Francois did anything he could against Clemson’s vaunted defense. Late in the third quarter, Florida State trailed 21-20. Cook, who already scored two touchdowns (4 and 43 yards), knew one play would turn the tide and complete the comeback — The Seminoles were down 14-0 through the first quarter.
On the first play of the drive, Florida State ran a counter to the left. Cook bounced outside, and by the time he hit the first down marker, the 210-pound running back shifted into fifth gear. He was gone.
After 70 yards, and not a Clemson Tiger within 10 yards, Cook lunged into the end zone like Usain Bolt at the Olympics.
Dalvin Cook’s 70-Yard TD Run vs. Clemson
The Florida State faithful were in full throat, but this heavyweight NCAA matchup was far from over on ESPN’s Saturday night game of the week.
Clemson’s Deshaun Watson drove his team down for a touchdown on the next drive, but failed on the two-point conversion. Florida State took over, and guess what happened.
On 1st-and-10 from their own 25-yard line, Cook received the handoff and blew past everyone, scampering 43 yards into Clemson territory.
Then, the flag came.
Florida State’s Freddie Stevenson was called for an illegal block downfield. Now, I don’t mean to be rude to the officials on the field that day, but the call was absolutely bogus.
For added emphasis, here’s what Jimbo Fisher said after the game about the critical fourth quarter penalty, for which he was fined $20,000 by the ACC:
“It was ridiculous. It was not a chop. It was not a chop. I will tell you what: you hold coaches accountable, you hold players accountable; hold the damn officials accountable. It is garbage, and then to call another penalty on the sideline is even more garbage.Advertisement
“It’s cowardly, gutless, and wrong.”
The 15-yard penalty pushed Florida State deep into their own territory, and they ended up punting the football away. Clemson scored on their next two possessions, the final dagger being a Deshaun Watson touchdown pass with 2:06 left in the game.
Florida State’s last gasp was in vain. The ‘Noles lost, 37-34, despite Dalvin Cook’s heroic 169-yard, four-touchdown game. Clemson didn’t lose until it played Alabama for the College Football Playoff National Championship that year.
As for FSU, they never lost again that season. Five-straight wins punctuated the season, including a victory over rival Florida Gators and a thrilling, last-minute victory over the Michigan Wolverines in the 2016 Orange Bowl. The MVP of that Orange Bowl with 207 yards from scrimmage? Take a guess.
The Minnesota Vikings selected the two-time All-American and two-time All-ACC running back 41st overall in the second round of the 2017 NFL Draft. (For the record, that might the best running back class in years: Leonard Fournette, Christian McCaffrey, Cook, Joe Mixon, Alvin Kamara, Kareem Hunt, James Conner, Tarik Cohen, Marlon Mack, Aaron Jones and Chris Carson.)
Cook made his first Pro Bowl in 2019. With wheels like his, rest assured that plenty more accolades are on the way.