After leading Northeast Tennessee with 1,854 rushing yards in 2018, Cole looks to join Sky Hicks as the only Daniel Boone backs to hit the 2,000-yard mark in a single season.
“To get 2,000 yards would be crazy because it’s double what I had my freshman year,” Cole said. “It would mean the world to me. I’ve got a chance because we’ve got a good offensive line with a lot of experience and they know what they’re doing.”
Committed to Army, Cole enters his senior year with 3,535 career yards. His time with the Trailblazers includes becoming the first Boone freshman to rush for over 1,000 yards, enduring an injury-plagued sophomore season in which he finished with 640 yards, and bouncing back with a prolific junior season.
“Last year was about staying healthy because when you stay healthy, you can play,” said Cole, a member of the Times News/Johnson City Press Elite 11 team in 2018. “I pushed harder because I had to make up for the previous season. I’m so glad I was healthy for every game.”
There is a long history of great running backs at Boone — one that includes Cole’s father, who rushed for over 1,000 yards in 1991 before going on to play at Emory & Henry.
Boone coach Jeremy Jenkins said the younger Cole has one natural ability that separates him from the pack.
“He has the breakaway speed, which sets him apart,” Jenkins said. “He’s big and powerful, but he has the athletic ability to take it the distance. His big-play capability sets him apart from everybody.”
With powerful legs, the 6-foot-1, 230-pound back runs a 4.4 in the 40-yard dash and he does a 550-pound squat and 500-pound deadlift. Cole has done other drills, such as push-up starts of 10 yards, to be quicker at the line of scrimmage. He’s also worked to lengthen his stride.
That effort paid off, and the speed was showcased in Boone’s 35-28 win at Science Hill last season. Cole rushed 26 times for 321 yards and three touchdowns — one of them for 80 yards and another for 85.
“He had several runs for us 50 yards or more last season,” Jenkins said. “Anytime you can go against top programs and have one of the fastest if not the fastest player on the field, you feel good about it.”
Cole, whose great-uncle is East Tennessee State coach Randy Sanders, opens up the offense for other players as well. He’s such an effective back that he has to always be accounted for.
“He makes an impact game plan-wise,” Jenkins said. “People, when they game-plan against us, they have to stop No. 4. That’s a good thing for us.
“He’s really worked on catching the ball out of the backfield. That’s become more of a weapon for us,” the coach added, “and he’s also going to play linebacker for us this year and rush the passer on passing downs.”
Although he likes it best on the offensive side of the ball, Cole is excited about his role defensively. He looks forward to being the one dishing out the punishment.
“I’m more of an offensive guy, but now I get to tackle some people,” he said.
“I’m back there with Devon (White) and he did a great job last year almost breaking the school record in tackles. It gives us a lot of speed on that side of the ball.”