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Wednesday, August 9
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Cobbs sets lofty goals for himself and Arkansas news services

Southeastern Conference defenses discovered last year what Cedric Cobbs' childhood friends knew a long time ago.

When you tackle Cobbs, better bring a crowd.

Cobbs, Arkansas's sensational sophomore running back and darkhorse Heisman Trophy candidate, figures to carry the Hogs this year much as he carried neighborhood kids on his back many years ago.

It seems Cobbs unwittingly developed his uncanny moves as a child playing a game called "Killer Man" on a playground near Little Rock's McClellan High.

"It's kind of like rugby but there's no teams," Cobbs said. "You pick up the ball and start running. About 15 people are trying to tackle you. You just pretty much run up and down the field trying to score touchdowns. I really didn't think anybody could tackle me. There were times when I just ran out of breath from running so much without getting tackled. I just threw the ball to someone else to let them run."

Cedric Cobbs
Arkansas' Cedric Cobbs (#4) was the 2000 Cotton Bowl MVP and hopes to break Georgia's Herschel Walker's SEC rushing mark of 1,891 yards this season.
That won't happen this year to the 6-2, 225-pound Cobbs. Arkansas is figuring ways to get the ball in his hands more often, and keep it there.

Last year when he ran for 668 yards (a gaudy 5.8 yards per carry) during the regular season, Cobbs had to share time with then-senior Chrys Chukwuma. Cobbs scored but five touchdowns, but he became the first Razorback in 16 years to score TDs rushing, receiving and on a kickoff return in the same season.

Cobbs even surprised his teammates. They'd heard and seen the hype Cobbs produced as a high school all-American leading Little Rock Fair to the 1998 state championship.

But after all, high school is high school and big-time Division 1-A football is another matter.

"I watched tapes of Cedric in high school and I thought he was very good," Arkansas linebacker Quinton Caver said. "I thought that would change once he got to the SEC, but he's still doing the same things he did in high school. I hate practicing against him because he makes you look so bad."

In one of his first practices when he was timed in the 40-yard dash, he ran it in a head-shaking 4.35 seconds.

Then in his first college game against SMU, Cobbs scored on a 53-yard run. In game two against Louisiana-Monroe, he scored on a 36-yard reception. In game five against Middle Tennessee on his first collegiate kick return, he roared 95 yards on the opening kickoff for a TD.

Even when he didn't gain big yards, Cobbs left defenders shaking their heads. Against Kentucky on his first carry, a mere 3-yard gain, he made seven defenders miss him before being tackled.

In back-to-back wins over No. 3 Tennessee and No. 12 Mississippi State, Cobbs was a workhorse. He ripped the Vols for 107 yards on 15 carries, then got 77 yards on 22 physically punishing attempts including a 3-yard TD in the fourth quarter.

"I had to really suck it up against Mississippi State," Cobbs said. "(State safety) Ashley Cooper hit me so hard one time that I went out of the game and I didn't know if I wanted to play again. I reached down in my heart and knew I had to help my team win."

Cobbs' performance in Arkansas's 27-6 Cotton Bowl win over Texas -- he was named the game's offensive MVP with 98 yards rushing and two TDs -- has further raised expectations for this season.

With the Hogs' quarterback situation unsettled and likely in inexperienced hands, Cobbs's workload should increase. For someone who carried more than 20 times in a game just once last year, 20 carries per game might be the norm this season.

"We brought Cedric along slowly last year, but we want the ball in his hands 25 to 30 times a game this season," Arkansas coach Houston Nutt said. "The best thing about Cedric is he's stayed hungry and humble."

Well, sort of humble. A confident Cobbs said a 2,000-yard rushing season is his goal. The SEC record is 1,891 yards by Georgia's Herschel Walker in 1981.

"If I do everything I'm supposed to, then I'll be a serious Heisman Trophy candidate," Cobbs said. "If I don't, the goal is to still win the national championship."

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