GREENSBORO – Everything points to North Carolina A&T (NC A&T) graduate kickoff returner Taymon Cooke being the best returner in the nation. On Saturday, He proved that when he returned a 91-yard kickoff for a touchdown against the Richmond Spiders at home at Truist Stadium.
Cooke’s third kickoff return for a touchdown of the season earned him his second career weekly honor as the Coastal Athletic Association (CAA) Football Conference named Cooke its special teams player of the week on Monday. It also earned him FedEx Ground FCS National Special Teams Player of the Week, the first national honor of his career. Cooke leads the nation in kickoff returns for touchdowns and is the only player in Division I-FCS football with three. Cooke was named Big South special teams player of the week on Oct. 31, 2022.
“He’s got incredible short-space speed, he’s got excellent long speed, and probably the most underrated part of this is the vision to see the opening,” said A&T head coach Vincent Brown. “Our guys on the kickoff return, we call Showtime, have done a good job blocking for him. But he’s got the vision to know where to hit it, to get into the alley. He’s got speed to make people miss down the field, and he’s got long speed to outrun people as the play develops farther down the field.”
The Aggies trailed 17-0 when Taymon Cooke took the kickoff at the NC A&T 9-yard line and started to the right. Once he found the seam at the A&T 20, he turned up the field and rocketed into a full sprint up the right side of the field, getting critical blocks from Jazir Staton and Jayvonne Dillard to cut the Spiders lead to 10. All three of Cooke’s touchdown returns have come at Truist Stadium.
He had an 80-yard kickoff return against North Carolina Central on Sept. 9 before racing 94 yards for a touchdown against Villanova on Oct. 7. Cooke leads the nation in yards per kickoff return at 41.5. He shares the program record with Brian Rodman (1990-93) and Malik Wilson (2015-18) for most kickoff returns for touchdowns in a career with four. All four of Wilson’s returns came during the 2018 season, giving him the Aggies single-season record.