Wednesday, September 29, 2004

UC pass rush fueled by Cole

Defensive end climbs career list for sacks and tackles for loss

By Bill Koch
Enquirer staff writer

In the hyped-up parlance of football, players like University of Cincinnati defensive end Trent Cole are considered "high-energy" or "high-motor" players.

They're the guys who play so hard all the time that it seems as if they never get tired.

Cole is here to tell you that's not true. "Sometimes I do get tired," he said.

cole But that doesn't help much if you're the offensive tackle assigned to keep him away from your quarterback, because Cole has a sure-fire method for reinvigorating himself. He simply gets into his stance, places his hand on the turf and gets ready for the next play.

"When I put my hand down, all that tiredness, it's not there anymore," Cole said. "I don't know what it is. It's just something I have that I'm not tired. When I put my hand on the field, I'm ready to go and I'm focused on that quarterback. I forget all about that tiredness and keep going and going."

Cole, a 6-foot-4, 260-pound senior, is the heart of the UC defense. A first-team all-Conference USA selection last year, his nickname is Scrap Iron because of his chiseled physique. He carries less than 7 percent body fat.

"He's very, very powerful, very quick and athletic," UC coach Mark Dantonio said.

Cole's three sacks in UC's win over East Carolina Saturday - one for a safety - lifted him into eighth place on the school's career list, with 13. He ranks fifth in career tackles for loss with 37.5.

It's hard to measure, but on a team with the most prolific quarterback in the school's history, Cole is probably the Bearcats' best player.

"He may be," Dantonio said. "That's a pretty strong statement with Gino (Guidugli) at quarterback and with our running backs. We have a lot of guys who we can't afford to lose, but Trent is a difference maker on defense. He comes to play. That's contagious."

Cole has always been in constant motion on the field. At Xenia High School, he played running back, rushing for 1,241 yards and 10 touchdowns as a senior. On defense, he played linebacker and defensive end. He also played on special teams. "I never came off the field," he said.

As a sophomore at UC, he played primarily defensive tackle, but after defensive end Antwan Peek - the Bearcats' career sacks leader with 27 - completed his career in 2002, Cole was moved to Peek's position.

If it appears that Cole plays the same way Peek did, it's not a coincidence.

"That was somebody I always looked up to," Cole said. "People used to get on me about it. I learned all my moves off him. I loved how he played, so I tried to take after what he was doing because he was being successful. Look where it got him. He's in the NFL (Houston Texans), living a dream. I want to live the dream some day."

A country boy at heart, Cole loves to hunt and fish and spend time outdoors. He's also a big fan of country music, the mention of which makes him laugh, almost as if he's embarrassed by it.

"Yeah, I like country music," he says. "I'm a black guy. You don't see that coming from guys like me. But that's something I love to do. People can think whatever they want to think about me. I'm black and I hunt, but I love what I do, and nobody's going to change me."

What he stalks most seriously is opposing quarterbacks, and he's so good at it that Dantonio says he has an excellent chance to join Peek in the NFL next season.

Or he might return to UC for another year.

Cole was academically ineligible to play as a freshman. He's scheduled to graduate with a degree in criminal justice this spring or summer, and if he does, he can regain that lost year of eligibility. But that's not likely if he gets drafted next spring.

"I want to stay," he said, "then again I want to go. It all depends on what happens this season. I want to get my degree. My whole family, they all got their degrees. That's something big. It will help you in life. Once you got that, nobody can take it from you."



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