Cook describes his unlikely ascent from high school benchwarmer to walk-on athlete in one of the country’s premier college football programs in this debut sports memoir.
Growing up watching University of Georgia football games with his father, Cook knew that he wanted to one day play for the team himself. He had no idea how difficult a dream that was to accomplish, however, even for a talented football player—which he was not. “I wasn’t a standout on my high school football team,” recalls Cook in his introduction, “in fact, I wasn’t even a starter. I was a fourth-string linebacker and had recorded one tackle in my entire high school career.” Most people would have seen the writing on the wall, but Cook would not let himself be deterred. After getting his acceptance letter from the university, he quickly Googled how to try out for the team, though even that information wasn’t easily acquirable. The tryout process—which Cook literally snuck his way into under false pretenses—turned out to be a tiered, monthslong affair in which he competed against far more qualified athletes for one of the few open spots on the roster. Despite being small, slow, and weak by even the standards of his high school program, Cook began a Rudy Ruettiger–like rise. He showed that he could outwork any player he came up against, proving that his spirit and tenacity were enough to earn him the right to wear a Bulldogs jersey. Cook’s prose is simple and clean, and it emanates the considerable regard he has for the University of Georgia and its storied program: “I went to every home game that fall, and they all held new meaning for me. I still got as excited about games as I had when I was a kid, but it was different. I knew those guys; I had trained with them and practiced against them. I understood what went on behind the scenes.” While Cook’s narrative doesn’t have quite the same drama as that of Notre Dame’s famous walk-on, it offers wonderful insight into the functioning of an elite Division I program that should be of interest to any college football fan.
An inspirational memoir that is ultimately more about fandom and drive than athleticism.