Ex-Gil­man stars find new ways to ex­cel

Goins back at RB; ex-QB Cock­er­ille stands out at LB

Baltimore Sun - - SPORTS - By Don Markus

COL­LEGE PARK — For­mer high school foot­ball team­mates Ken­neth Goins Jr. and Shane Cock­er­ille share more than a his­tory dat­ing to their years play­ing — and star­ring — at Gil­man.

Go­ing into the 2016 sea­son at Mary­land, Goins and Cock­er­ille each faced un­cer­tainty. While both had en­dured a change in the coach­ing staff af­ter last sea­son, they have also switched po­si­tions.

Goins, who es­tab­lished him­self at full­back as a ju­nior last sea­son and fin­ished the year with a 42-yard touch­down run against Rut­gers, is part of a deep ro­ta­tion at run­ning back.

Re­call­ing his con­ver­sa­tion with new of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Walt Bell about the sys­tem be­ing brought in not us­ing a full­back, Goins said he looked for­ward to mov­ing back to a po­si­tion he played in high school.

“I was ex­cited. I al­ways wanted to play run­ning back” at Mary­land, Goins said. “But I was will­ing to be wher­ever the team needed me. Once he told me that, it kind of got me a lit­tle more ex­cited about play­ing.”

Bell said that af­ter watch­ing tape from last sea­son, he told Goins when he first met him, “‘You’re too good a player not to have you on the field. We’re go­ing to start you at tail­back to make you un­der­stand pass pro­tec­tion and see how you spin.’ He’s one of our 14, 15 best play­ers on of­fense and we would have found a role for him, no mat­ter what.”

Cock­er­ille, a high school quar­ter­back who had been used spar­ingly on both of­fense and de­fense while find­ing him­self to­ward the bot­tom of the depth chart at sev­eral po­si­tions, has started ev­ery game at Satur­day, 3:30 p.m. TV: ESPNU Ra­dio: 105.7 FM, 980 AM Line: In­di­ana by 5

line­backer this sea­son.

“When the new coach­ing staff got here, for me it was just a fresh start, an op­por­tu­nity to start ev­ery­thing over,” Cock­er­ille said Wed­nes­day. “It was my chance to get over to the de­fen­sive side. Through the win­ter, I did what­ever I was told. Went in, worked my butt off, ran, lifted. I was a guy who was will­ing to do any­thing to get on the field.”

Go­ing into Satur­day’s game at In­di­ana (3-4, 1-3 Big Ten), Goins and Cock­er­ille share an­other bond: They are start­ing to find the kind of suc­cess for Mary­land (5-2, 2-2) that they had back in high school.

Though he is av­er­ag­ing a lit­tle un­der three car­ries per game, Goins has made the most of his chances, gain­ing 6.8 yards a run in­clud­ing a key 15-yard gain to set up the clinch­ing touch­down in Satur­day’s 28-17 vic­tory over Michi­gan State.

Not only has he scored three rush­ing touch­downs af­ter get­ting just the one against Rut­gers in his first three sea­sons, Goins also has added two 2-point con­ver­sions, in­clud­ing one against the Spar­tans.

“I feel like it’s an honor to play run­ning back,” Goins said. “When I’m in there, I want to make the most of it.”

Bell said Goins, 5 feet 9, 233 pounds, has a style that con­trasts with those of the team’s two emerg­ing star run­ning backs, fresh­man Lorenzo Har­ri­son and sopho­more Ty John­son.

“He has re­ally de­vel­oped a nice lit­tle role for him­self,” Bell said. “Ty and LoLo [Har­ri­son], nei­ther of those guys are su­per pa­tient right now. … That’s where Kenny shines a lit­tle bit. A whole life of play­ing full­back, that’s what you do. You’ve got to see holes de­velop. You’ve got to find lanes. He’s done all that. … The com­bi­na­tion of quick feet and re­ally good vi­sion from play­ing full­back, that’s al­lowed him to give us some­thing that the other guys don’t.”

Cock­er­ille has been one of the big­gest sur­prises on the team, if not in the Big Ten. The 6-2, 235-pound ju­nior leads the Terps with 64 tack­les — 12 more than fel­low line­backer Jer­maine Carter Jr., who’s sec­ond — and ranks fourth in the Big Ten in tack­les af­ter mak­ing a ca­reer-high 15 against Michi­gan State.

“To be hon­est, I don’t even re­ally look at the num­ber [of tack­les]. I had no idea I had that many tack­les,” Cock­er­ille said. “Most of it comes from my ef­fort run­ning to the ball, just go­ing wher­ever the ball is on the field, just giv­ing my best ef­fort for the guys around me.”

De­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor Andy Buh said Wed­nes­day that Cock­er­ille has im­proved his tech­nique through­out the sea­son, par­tic­u­larly with what coaches call “eye con­trol growth” in rec­og­niz­ing for­ma­tions and what to ex­pect.

“He makes plays be­cause of his ef­fort. I know I’ve said that a lot,” Buh said. “But in terms of his growth, ev­ery game he gets in­creas­ingly bet­ter. His stats stayed pretty con­sis­tent. He’s mak­ing the plays he needs to make to be suc­cess­ful.”

Goins is not sur­prised that his for­mer high school team­mate has made the con­ver­sion to line­backer so seam­lessly.

“When he played quar­ter­back … he was Line­backer Shane Cock­er­ille, a quar­ter­back at Gil­man, leads Mary­land with 64 tack­les, 12 more than run­ner-up Jer­maine Carter Jr. one of those guys that liked to throw his body around,” Goins said. “I al­ways knew he could hit peo­ple and tackle peo­ple. He just never got the chance to do [it] when I was there.”

First-year Terps coach DJ Durkin said Goins and Cock­er­ille are em­blem­atic for a team that is try­ing to build depth to com­pete with the Big Ten power pro­grams — three of which Mary­land will play in suc­ces­sive weeks: Michi­gan, Ohio State and Ne­braska.

“We try to find as many roles for guys; to me, the bet­ter it is for your team, for ev­ery­thing,” Durkin said Tues­day. “We’re able to travel 70 guys on the road in the Big Ten. To me, you want as many of those guys as hu­manly pos­si­ble to be do­ing some­thing in the game, or else don’t travel them all.

“It’s a men­tal­ity. If you know you have a role in the game, you have a lit­tle more in­vest­ment in what’s go­ing on. ... You give a guy a role, you give a guy a sense of hope as op­posed to, ‘I’m go­ing to back up this and that and [I’m] not play­ing,’ you have some­thing go­ing on in the game.”

The game against In­di­ana brings back in­ter­est­ing mem­o­ries for Cock­er­ille.

As a fresh­man who found his way onto the field only on spe­cial teams, he made his Big Ten de­but in a game against the Hoosiers in Bloom­ing­ton two years ago.

“I ran into the punter and got called for a rough­ing-the-kicker penalty,” Cock­er­ille re­called Wed­nes­day. Then there was last year’s home game. With start­ing quar­ter­back Perry Hills side­lined right be­fore game time be­cause of mononu­cle­o­sis and backup Caleb Rowe un­able to play the sec­ond half be­cause of a con­cus­sion, Cock­er­ille played quar­ter­back, com­plet­ing 11 of 22 passes for 82 yards.

The Terps, who had built an early 21-3 lead and then fallen be­hind 30-21 by the time Rowe was in­jured late in the first half, wound up los­ing, 47-28. It was the last time Cock­er­ille played the po­si­tion he was re­cruited to play.

“All week I didn’t play too much quar­ter­back [in prac­tice]. I was just kind of thrown in there,” Cock­er­ille said Wed­nes­day. “Just go­ing out there and hav­ing fun was the big­gest part for me, try­ing to make plays. Just do­ing the best I could do for the guys around me. I knew they were count­ing on me.”

In a dif­fer­ent way, in a dif­fer­ent po­si­tion, in a dif­fer­ent sea­son, things won’t be any dif­fer­ent Satur­day.


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