Local safety Emanuel Cook blames himself for lowered draft status
By Zach Buchanan | South Florida Sun Sentinel
6:53 PM EDT, April 23, 2009
Ten seconds. Two points. That's all it took for South Carolina safety Emanuel Cook to be labeled a problem player.
In 2007, Cook was arrested on a gun charge, but the charge was later dropped. In 2008, the Palm Beach Gardens graduate was suspended for the Outback Bowl for failing a class.
Both situations were portrayed as worse than they, he said.
"The media put it out there," said Cook, who declared for this weekend's NFL Draft after his junior season. "They may think I'm a bad guy. Everybody that knows me knows I'm a good guy.
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Cook said he only failed the class by two points, and while he asked for extra credit opportunities, he respected his teacher's decision to withhold special treatment.
The gun situation, he said, was just a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
"I was in the dorm room and everything, and I had just gotten out of the shower," Cook explained. "Everyone was out in front of the porch where we stayed at. I came outside, talking to everybody."
A friend began showing off his new car, and then began showing off his new gun. Cook looked it over, handed it back, and then ten seconds later, he said, the police arrived and arrested him. He was taken to jail, but released on his own recognizance. South Carolina suspended him, but when the charges were dropped against him, he was reinstated.
Cook said he's learned from both incidents. Still, his name has a red flag next to it for many NFL teams, and it seems unfair to him that his draft stock has taken such a hit, Cook only blames himself.
"In the position I'm in right now, I'm under a microscope," he said.
Cook is projected to be drafted somewhere in the middle rounds of the draft. He feels comfortable playing both strong and free safety, and likes both positions equally.
Several teams came to South Carolina's Pro Day (which Cook was almost held out of because of his Outback Bowl suspension), but the only team he has visited was the Dolphins for their local prospect workout. Still, so many teams have called, he said he has trouble remembering them all.
"I had a bunch of teams call me for my draft day number, making sure they had the right number and everything," Cook said, remembering Denver and Green Bay.
Some draft experts have likened Cook to a less-athletic Bob Sanders. He doesn't move as well as the Colts safety, although Cook said he has more range now than ever.
"I was more bulky in high school," said the 5-foot-10, 214 pound safety. "I couldn't really move as well as I do now."
Draft weekend will pass without much hoopla for Cook. He plans to go fishing before the draft starts, and then barbecue with his family while he waits for the call. When that will be, he doesn't care, as long as it happens eventually.
"I'm just lucky to be able to be in the draft," he said.
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