Tracking one young Raider’s run
Not long ago, Gary Cook had no ties with the Oakland Raiders; The 22-year-old was just a student-athlete wrapping up his final units at University of Nevada, Las Vegas, where he majored in construction management and earned a full-ride scholarship punting for the football team.Thanks to the athletic portion of his college tenure, life for the Truckee High grad changed in a hurry after graduation, when he signed a free-agent contract with the Raiders.
“Everything is going pretty well,” Cook said Monday from the Oakland Raiders’ training camp in Napa. “I’ve been out there every morning and afternoon kicking. My leg is getting a little tired, but I’m kicking the ball well.”That’s what the Raiders are hoping to see in their 6-foot, 205-pound rookie whose value lies in his ability to punt, as well as boot kickoffs and make field goals – like he did as a Wolverine.In four seasons with UNLV, Cook set new Mountain West Conference records by punting 281 times, for 11,430 yards, and was one of only 10 semifinalists in the country up for the Ray Guy Award.
Since training camp opened on Thursday, Cook has been following the typical kicker-punter routine: hanging with others at his position, practicing while watching the violent action of practice from a safe distance.”I’ve been with Shane and Sea Bass the whole time,” Cook said, referring to Raiders Pro Bowl punter Shane Lechler and field goal and place kicker Sebastian Janikowski. “They are both really good guys. Shane kind of took me under his wing.”Cook said competing against some of the best in the NFL brings out the best in him.
“Anytime I’m around someone better than me it makes me better,” Cook said.Stay tuned in the weeks ahead for updates about Gary Cook’s status with the Oakland Raiders.