Patrick Cobbs was looking to further a football career that includes a record-setting tenure at North Texas and five years in the NFL.
That desire led Cobbs back to the city where some of his best moments on the field took place.
The former UNT running back will join the Ryan coaching staff this fall as the team’s running backs coach. Cobbs played at UNT for five years and is the school’s No. 2 career rusher with 4,050 yards.
The 31-year-old from Tecumseh, Oklahoma, is one of several coaches joining the Raiders in Dave Henigan’s first year as head coach.
“Denton’s always been my second home,” Cobbs said. “Denton will always have a place in my heart, and I think it’s phenomenal that I get to come back to Denton and pursue the second part of my life as a coach and not a player.”
Cobbs was college football’s leading rusher in 2003 with 1,680 yards and played in the NFL for five seasons. Cobbs replaces Shelton Gandy, who left to join Hal Wasson’s staff at Southlake Carroll.
At the end of Cobbs’ last year with the Mean Green in 2005, he was the school’s all-time leading rusher. That mark was eclipsed in 2011 by current Cowboys running back Lance Dunbar.
Cobbs was signed as an undrafted free agent by the New England Patriots, was traded to the Pittsburgh Steelers and eventually ended up with the Miami Dolphins, where he played all of his regular-season games. In 54 games with the Dolphins, he compiled 1,605 all-purpose yards and scored six touchdowns.
Henigan said he was impressed with what Cobbs did as a player and wanted to take a look at the UNT great. Once Henigan met with Cobbs, the new Ryan coach said he was impressed with Cobbs’ demeanor and approach to coaching.
“I think he understands that he’s going back to ground zero, so to speak, and he understands the work ethic that it’s going to take to be successful as a coach,” Henigan said. “Sometimes great players don’t always understand that. I think Patrick does. I was really, really impressed with him.”
For the last three years, Cobbs was a middle school coach at Dallas Good Shepherd Episcopal. Cobbs said he enjoyed teaching kids who just started playing football and nurturing their love for the sport. But Cobbs looked at the coaches leading teams into the Texas high school playoffs and wanted to be a part of that experience.
“I wanted to take it a step forward,” Cobbs said. “I felt like I had a little more to give than those kids were ready for, and I felt like high school would be the perfect level for me.”
Collins leaves ACU for Ryan
While Cobbs was running all over defenses at UNT, Sam Collins anchored Ryan’s offensive line. After nine years as a player and then coach at Abilene Christian, Collins was ready to come back to the Denton area, and Ryan made sure Collins came home to his alma mater.
The former Ryan center will coach defensive tackles this fall. He replaces Jay Brown, who was named Palestine’s head coach this summer.
Collins was Ryan’s starting center and graduated in 2005. After he and his wife, Casey, had their daughter, Emma, last year, the new parents decided to move closer to their roots.
“We just really wanted to get back to our own families,” Sam Collins said. “And I just wanted to get back to the high school that I played at and had a great career. I wanted to get back there with them and see where that program goes.”
Collins was at Ryan during Henigan’s stint as offensive coordinator. While Collins was the offensive line coach at ACU, he recruited kids from Grapevine, where Henigan was the head coach for the last five years.
Once Ryan assistant coach Adrian Eaglin mentioned that Collins was looking to move back to the area, Henigan and the Raiders jumped on the opportunity to add him to their staff.
“It was a no-brainer at that point,” Henigan said. “We got him here as fast as we could, visited with him and got him on board.”
Three more join staff
There will be a few more new faces on Ryan’s coaching staff this fall.
In addition to Cobbs and Collins, Henigan is bringing in two coaches who were with him at Grapevine.
Kyle Burch will help coach the offensive line, while Jordan Bull will coach the inside linebackers. Quentin Wyatt, who coached at Myers Middle School, will coach Ryan’s cornerbacks.
Ryan lost a few assistants this summer. Richard Lay retired and Kelly Lokey went to Frisco Independence.
Eric Lokey, Kelly’s brother and a longtime Ryan assistant, was named the Denton school district’s assistant athletic director. David Thomas, Ryan’s defensive coordinator for the last 14 years, is the facilities manager at C.H. Collins Athletic Complex.
BEN BABY can be reached at 940-566-6869 and via Twitter at @Ben_Baby.