Ever since he was young, Cook wanted to play in the NFL. One player that has served as a mentor to him since his high school days is Devonta Freeman.
Dalvin Cook’s path to the NFL
In high school, Cook starred on the football field and on the track. The Florida native was a five-star recruit by Rivals.com. He attended Miami Central High School, a top football program in Florida, and during his time there, he put up impressive numbers. Cook finished with 4,267 rushing yards and 64 touchdowns during his high school career, and he led Miami Central to a 52-5 record.
The highly-rated running back originally committed to Clemson University and then switched to the University of Florida. In January of 2014, Cook changed his commitment to Florida State University. At Florida State, Cook was one of the top players in the country. He immediately made an impact when he joined the team. Cook finished his freshman year with 1,008 rushing yards, eight rushing touchdowns, 22 receptions, and 203 receiving yards. He was named the MVP of the ACC Championship Game after rushing for 177 yards on 31 carries and one touchdown. In the next two years, Cook continued to dominate on the field. Cook was a first-team All-American his sophomore and junior and finished his career at Florida State with 4,464 rushing yards and 46 touchdowns.
The Vikings selected Cook in the second round of the 2017 NFL draft. He was the third running back selected in the draft. In his first game, Cook set the Vikings’ rookie debut rushing record by rushing for 127 yards on 22 carries. He got off to a strong start to his rookie season, but he suffered a torn ACL injury early in the season and was forced to miss the remainder of the season. Cook rushed for 354 rushing yards and two touchdowns in four games.
In the next two seasons, his numbers improved. In 2019, he had an impressive season rushing for 1,135 yards and 13 touchdowns, and he caught 53 passes for 519 yards. He was selected to his first Pro Bowl in 2019. During the 2020 season, Cook is currently leading the league in rushing yards (424) and rushing touchdowns (6).
Devonta Freeman has had success in the NFL
Like Cook, Freeman attended Miami Central and Florida State. Freeman came out before Cook, and he helped pave the way for Cook. Freeman spent three seasons at Florida State and had a lot of success in his final year in college. During the 2013 season, he rushed for 1,016 yards and 14 touchdowns and was a part of the Florida State team that won the BCS National Championship.
After his career at Florida State, the Atlanta Falcons selected him in the fourth round of the 2014 NFL draft. He spent the first six years of his NFL career with the Falcons. During the 2015 season, he led the league in rushing touchdowns with 11, and that season he was selected to the Pro Bowl and was a second-team All-Pro selection.
He finished his career in Atlanta rushing for 3,972 yards and 32 touchdowns, and he had 257 receptions for 2,015 yards and 11 touchdowns. After the 2019 season, the Falcons released Freeman, and he signed with the New York Giants in September of 2020.
Dalvin Cook has a special relationship with Devonta Freeman
Cook and Freeman took a similar path to the NFL. Both players went to the same high school and college and now are in the NFL. Cook was a sophomore in high school when he was introduced to Freeman. In an article from The Atlantic, Cook and Freeman talked about their relationship over the years.
“He was a small little puppy,” Freeman said in the article. “But one thing about Dalvin was he always listened. He was humble and hard-working and just listened. Every time I told him something he listened. That really drew me to him. Dalvin just kept listening and following the right footsteps. Now he’s a superstar.”
Cook did not play football during his freshman year of high school because Freeman was the star running back, but Cook always watched him play. “To see him do that showed that I could do it,” Cook said. “Devonta was really one of the first people I seen accomplish going to college. Once I saw him do it, I was like, ‘Yeah, this can be done. There is hope that we can make it.’ That was pretty much what I got from him going to college and getting drafted.”
Freeman made sure to set the right example for Cook while he was in high school and college, and it all paid off.