Miami (Fla.) Central coach Roland Smith knows he’ll be watching a little TV Thursday night with two of his former players, Dalvin Cook and Joe Yearby, expected to be drafted by the NFL.
“Most definitely,” Smith said. “When you have guys from the same high school program, you have to watch and see, like a proud papa from afar, enjoying these kids reaching their potential.
“The things that these kids did right was go to class and work hard. They were always hard workers in high school.”
Cook and Yearby played together in the same backfield at Central, winning three state titles in four seasons before they graduated in 2014. In high school, they were a one-two punch that few teams could match.
Yearby ran for 5,593 yards and 68 touchdowns in four seasons for the Rockets. Cook didn’t play as a freshman but had 4,267 yards and 64 touchdowns in three years and was a first team American Family Insurance ALL-USA player his senior year with the Rockets.
“We would run one and rest the other and other times, we went monster with both of them in the backfield at the same time,” Smith said. “Sometimes, we even ran the wildcat with Joe at quarterback and Dalvin in the backfield. Our offensive coordinator did a good job of using the talent we had on our team.”
Cook, who in only three seasons became Florida State’s all-time leading rusher, is expected to go high in the first round. He should be the highest Miami Central player to be drafted since running back Elvis Peacock was the 20th pick overall in the 1978 draft out of Oklahoma.
Another Central player, running back Willis McGahee, was a likely top five pick in 2013 but a knee injury he suffered while playing for Miami in the Fiesta Bowl that year led him to go 23rd overall.
As a two-time All-American, it was an easy choice for Cook to turn pro a year early. Yearby’s status is a little more iffy, with most mock drafts having him go in the third or fourth round.
He and Cook each had impressive numbers as college sophomores. Yearby had a team-leading 1,275 all-purpose yards during the 2015 season while Cook led the Noles that season with 1,691 rushing yards and 1,935 all-purpose yards. But Yearby’s numbers dropped last season as a junior. He fell to No. 2 on Miami’s depth chart behind sophomore Mark Walton and rushed for only 608 yards and eight touchdowns, though Yearby led the team with an average of 6.0 yards a carry.
Yearby, looking at playing behind Walton next season as well, also turned pro early. Another factor might be financial as he has two young children to support.
“They didn’t use him as much and Joe said he was good enough to go, because he was ready to declare,” Smith said.