North Carolina A&T

Carolina Panthers signing Tarik Cohen is a full-circle moment

Tarik Cohen joining the Carolina Panthers is a full-circle moment moment for the North Carolina A&T legend.

Tarik Cohen is officially back in the NFL and doing it at home as a member of the Carolina Panthers.

The North Carolina A&T legend and former Chicago Bears running back/return man has been signed to the team as a member of the practice squad.

Cohen hasn’t played in the NFL since 2020 when he tore his ACL. 

“It was a long conversation. I tried to stay calm during the conversation,” Cohen told Sheena Quick of his conversation with Carolina Panthers officials. “But then, as soon as I hung up the phone, I like, lost my mind.”

It was a watershed moment for Tarik Cohen as he returns to his home state. He was a star at Bunn High School then found his way to North Carolina A&T where he went from an unheralded recruit to become the top rusher in school and MEAC history, second all-time among HBCU football stars. He helped shine a light on talent in a pre-Deion Sanders world with his combination of social media exploits and on-the-field dominance. 

Cohen was picked in the fourth round of the 2017 NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears and quickly became one of the most versatile backs in the league. He made the Pro Bowl as a return man during the 2018 season and signed an extension with Chicago just before he suffered the ACL injury. 

Tarik Cohen
Tarik Cohen (center) flanked by his brothers Tyrell and Dante. (Steven J. Gaither/HBCU Gameday)

Since then Cohen has experienced both triumph and tragedy. Both of his brothers — his twin Tyrell and his younger brother Dante’ — passed away at early ages due to tragic accidents. His son, Carter Tyrell Cohen, was born during this time as well.

With all the ups and downs, Cohen says he’s happy to get another chance in the NFL close to home. 

“That’s really the main reason why I wanted to stay here so close — in the state of North Carolina — was because of my family. I feel like, without my family, don’t think I would have made it through these last two years. I feel like — even before, I did it for my family — they helped me get through my rough moments. So I feel like, coming afterwards, that’s also who I’m doing it for still.”

To watch Tarik Cohen play at North Carolina A&T was to sit on the edge of your seat every time he touched the ball. Many people doubted whether the undersized back from an HBCU could make it in the NFL, and he did many of the same things he did in college in the pros. Simply put, Cohen has a history of proving doubters wrong and history says there is a good chance it will happen again with the Carolina Panthers. 

“I just really feel like this is where I’m supposed to be,” Cohen told Carolina Blitz. “You know how stuff is just like — written? That’s the way I feel.”

Carolina Panthers signing Tarik Cohen is a full-circle moment
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