It’s been nearly a year since he put on a helmet and shoulder pads, so you can understand wide receiver Stefan Cobbs’ excitement.
The senior for the Keller Fossil Ridge football team is 10 months removed from watching his season disappear because of a torn left ACL. Now healthy, Cobbs has worked his way back and is ready when fall workouts begin in August.
“Really, I haven’t taken a day off since the injury,” Cobbs said. “I’ve been doing something every day, from bench presses to working on my speed and quickness. I haven’t been more excited about a season than this one.”
Cobbs (6-2, 185) is the latest in a line of solid Panther receivers head coach Tony Baccarini’s program has produced. That started with Howard Morrow in the mid 2000s. As a sophomore, Cobbs was the No. 3 receiver (32-408, 12.8 yards per catch, 3 touchdowns).
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At game time, I saw everybody getting ready for the game. I’m just sitting there. But what helped is that they were supporting me and kept me in the circle.
Stefan Cobbs on sitting out the majority of the 2016 football season
A much-anticipated big 2016 season began against Arlington Lamar in the season opener. Cobbs delivered a 119-yard, one-touchdown performance on five receptions. Nobody knew something had had happened with his knee in the scrimmage the prior week. Another tweak occurred against the Vikings.
Cobbs played through it until the second play Sept. 2 against Flower Mound.
He went through the play and said he stepped awkwardly. He couldn’t make it back to the sidelines.
Trainers rushed out to the field to carry him back to the bench. Preliminary tests suggested his ACL was torn. Cobbs insisted he could return to the game if he was given a few minutes of rest. That idea was quashed. Days later, the MRI revealed the crushing news. Cobbs’ season was over.
“I was in denial,” Cobbs said. “Even when I was told, I still didn’t believe it was torn. But my dad and I talked and knew I needed to have the surgery. It was the worst thing I have had to go through.
“At game time, I saw everybody getting ready for the game. I’m just sitting there. But what helped is that they were supporting me and kept me in the circle.”
A verbal leader, Cobbs did what he could to have an impact. The Panthers finished 7-4 before falling to Mansfield in the Class 6A Division I bi-district playoffs.
Cobbs continued through offseason rehab and was cleared for spring football. However, a meeting between him, his father, Baccarini and the Fossil Ridge training staff convinced all sides that it was better to stay out of the physical workouts as a precaution.
“He didn’t have to prove anything to me,” Baccarini said. “I already know what kind of player he is. There are great ball skills and what he does after the catch. He probably has the highest energy level of anyone. Kids respond to him. He’s a really smart player.”
Cobbs has spent the summer working with the Fossil Ridge 7-on-7 team and new quarterback Cobe Craft. Cobbs still has a chance to play in college. North Texas and Abilene Christian have offered.
Other programs including TCU, Baylor, Houston, Oklahoma State and Boise State want to see film after the non-district season to see how the knee responds. That’s standard for a player coming off a major injury.
Should the film reveal the progress suggested in 2015 and briefly in 2016, the rest should play out in Cobbs’ favor.
“I’m expecting a giant season, not just above average,” Cobbs said. “Just the work I’ve put in makes me feel like I have come back feeling quicker and stronger. My knee feels better than before.”