It’s not unusual for NFL players to work out at their former colleges in the offseason, but in Cobi Hamilton’s case, there’s a bit of a twist. When the wide receiver returned to Arkansas after his first year with the Bengals, he worked out with the Razorbacks’ track team, not the football team.
“With the new football coaches at Arkansas, I guess I’m more comfortable with the track coaches because I ran track for two years and those coaches are still there,” said Hamilton. “I drop in on the football coaches every now and then, but there are a lot of new faces so it’s kind of weird. So I work out and lift weights with the track team because there’s a comfort level.
“Some of the same guys that I ran with my freshman and sophomore years are seniors now, or may be going into the pros. Two or three of those guys are really fast, so I work out with them and it benefits me a lot. It’s not the same as football conditioning, but it keeps your legs in shape.”
Hamilton was listed at 6’2”, 205 pounds last year and says that he’s probably dropped some weight as a result of the track workouts.
“I stay in contact with the fellas during the offseason, so I knew what his plan was,” said wide receivers coach James Urban. “We talked about how important this offseason was going to be for him.
“He had to get himself in a little better shape which he’s done. He looks great now and really embraced it in the offseason.”
The Bengals drafted Hamilton in the sixth round last year after a prolific senior season at Arkansas in which Cobi finished with 90 catches for 1,335 yards. After making seven receptions in the preseason last year including a 4-yard TD catch against Dallas (watch it here), Hamilton spent the regular season on Cincinnati’s practice squad
“Cobi made as big of strides from the beginning of training camp to the end of the season as anyone I’ve ever been around,” said Urban. “It was learning the system…learning how to practice…learning how to compete daily…just learning how to be a pro. There are some guys that come ready-made for it and some guys that take a little while. We’re excited about him.”
“It took a lot of reps, but things started coming a little bit easier for me towards the end of the season and I started to make more plays,” said Hamilton.
With the loss of Andrew Hawkins to Cleveland in free agency, Hamilton will be looking to break into the wide receiver rotation this season under new offensive coordinator Hue Jackson.
“Hue pulled me aside last year when he was the running backs coach and encouraged me to get better,” said Hamilton. “He was always whispering in my ear, ‘Do you know how good you can be?’”
Cobi received similar encouragement from his position coach.
“He just wasn’t quite making the plays that I saw him make at Arkansas during training camp and the early part of the year,” said Urban. “So I kept saying, ‘What do we have to do to get you to make the plays that I know you can make. I know you can make them.’”
Now the former 200-meter runner at Arkansas says that he’s on the right track to contribute at wide receiver in Cincinnati.
“Now I know what it takes to be an NFL player,” Cobi told me. “I’m excited for this season and I’m ready to get going.”
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