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Good article about the seldom noticed trainers who are an important part of our teams.

Trainers played key role in Cobbs’ run to national rushing title

07:23 AM CST on Monday, March 29, 2004

By Brett Vito / Staff Writer

Most of the people who helped North Texas running back Patrick Cobbs win the national rushing title last season were easy to pick out on Saturday nights.

Cobbs benefited from a standout offensive line, the guidance of coach Darrell Dickey and the talents of fullback Justin Claborn. What went largely unnoticed were the contributions Dustin Hill, Kevin McShan and the rest of UNT’s athletic trainers made behind the scenes.

Cobbs overcame a series of injuries during the season to average 152.7 yards a game. No other running back in Division I-A finished within 15 yards of Cobbs, despite the fact he missed two and a half games while recovering from a severely bruised thigh.

"The trainers played a big role in my winning the rushing title," said Cobbs, who also had to work though a sprained ankle. "They kept me motivated and helped me get back to full strength with the thigh real quick."

Cobbs first injured his thigh in UNT’s loss to Oklahoma in the opening week of the season. He was hit in the same spot the next week in a win over Baylor, sat out the second half and quickly had fluid build up in his leg.

UNT’s trainers had a doctor drain the fluid from Cobbs’ leg and used a variety of treatments to help him heal, including putting him in a compression boot to control the swelling in his leg.

"We spent a lot of time with Patrick," Hill said.

Cobbs came in twice a day after the fluid was removed from his leg to rehabilitate the injury. McShan was there to work with Cobbs each time.

"One of the most important aspects of rehabilitation is keeping an athlete’s head in it and making sure that he is motivated," McShan said. "You have to change things up and keep it fun."

Hill and McShan made sure that Cobbs understood how to do each exercise during the rehabilitation process and often times did the exercises with him. Cobbs said knowing what he was doing and why it was important made recovering from his injury easier.

Hill and McShan were almost like a new set of teammates for Cobbs while the rest of UNT’s players focused on formulating a plan to play with out him.

"It helps to have someone there with you," Cobbs said. "You are already not with the team. You get tired of them after a while, but it is all for the better."

Cobbs missed just two full games before coming back to rush for 157 yards in a win over Louisiana-Lafayette. Cobbs went on to rush for a school record 249 yards in a win over Idaho just over a month after he originally injured his thigh.

The win helped UNT cruise to its third straight Sun Belt Conference title and an appearance in the New Orleans Bowl. Cobbs went on to be named the Offensive Player of the Year in the Sun Belt.

McShan enjoyed seeing Cobbs succeed and took pride in knowing he played a role in one of the top individual accomplishments in the recent history of UNT football.

"It was extremely rewarding to work with a great guy like Patrick who will come in and do whatever you ask," McShan said. "It was fun to watch him play. You have a sense of pride from helping people like him. That is the reason most trainers do the job."

BRETT VITO can be reached at 940-566-6870.
03-29-2004 03:10 PM
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