Cobbs the one constant for IU offense

Throughout an otherwise disappointing offensive season for Indiana, there has been one positive, constant presence for the Hoosiers.

Simmie Cobbs hasn’t let IU down.

“He’s kind of been that rock there that you can count on,” Indiana coach Tom Allen said.

If Saturday’s game against Rutgers is Cobbs’ last inside Memorial Stadium, the redshirt junior receiver can take satisfaction in knowing he made the most of his final year.

After suffering a season-ending ankle injury on his first play from scrimmage last season, Cobbs has savored the opportunity to return to action this fall, while buoying an IU offense that has relied heavily on his presence.

“I’m just appreciating every moment,” Cobbs said.

The Hoosiers, too, appreciate his contributions while the rest of their offense has, for much of the season, struggled to find its way.

Cobbs is second in the Big Ten with 63 receptions and fourth in yardage (716) and touchdowns (seven). He has scored in three straight games and is the only receiver in the conference with three 10-plus catch performances this season.

Last week at Illinois, Cobbs was there to help Indiana close out a critical victory when he made a five-yard touchdown grab over the middle in the waning moments of the fourth quarter, putting the game out of reach of the Illini.

“Made another big play on Saturday where he just went up and got the ball and just kind of just horsed the corners and big-boyed them a little bit,” Allen said. “It’s just been his mindset the whole year. He’s even fought through some things that we don’t disclose as far as injuries and all. Hasn’t kept him out, but it’s hindered him a little bit.

“But he’s always right there. He’s so tough. So proud of him what he’s been able to do, and want to see him finish out the season on a great, great way.”

Cobbs, of course, has great incentive to finish strong.

For a few reasons.

One, he’s among the many upperclassmen pushing hard for a third consecutive bowl trip. Having joined the program in 2014, Cobbs has seen just how hard players before him had to work to get Indiana to a spot where it is consistently pushing for bowl bids.

That’s not lost on Cobbs, who made that point to IU’s underclassmen during a heartfelt team meeting following the Hoosiers’ loss to Wisconsin two weeks ago.

“The senior class, they want a bowl,” Cobbs said. “That’s the main goal.”

A strong finish would also help his draft stock. Cobbs is considered the No. 8 ranked receiver and the No. 64 overall prospect in the 2018 NFL Draft class, per CBS Sports’ database.

He’ll be one of 22 Hoosiers participating in IU’s Senior Day ceremony prior to Saturday’s game, giving himself and his family the opportunity to go out in proper fashion should he elect to declare for the draft following the season.

It’s the same move made last year by redshirt senior corner Rashard Fant, who went through Senior Day before deciding in January that he wanted to return for a final season at Indiana.

“Just like some other seniors with extra years, I put myself in a situation where I can give myself some options,” Cobbs said. “There’s nothing set in stone. I’m still gonna go through Senior Day, but that doesn’t mean I’m technically declaring or anything. I’m just giving myself options to see the feedback.”

While the feedback from NFL scouts and power brokers is yet to come, the feedback within IU’s facility is overwhelmingly positive for Cobbs.

His contributions to the offense are, of course, feted by teammates. His mere presence as a safety net on the outside also goes a long way toward uplifting a quarterback position that has gone through a couple changes this season.

“He’s my best friend,” said quarterback Richard Lagow, who is also Cobbs’ roommate. “He’s obviously someone on the field that I love to be out there with. If we’re back at the house or whatever, he’s a voice in my year. It’s positivity at times and also, we keep it real with each other. If something needs to be said, we’re not shy about it. He’s just done a good job of keeping me level and keeping me from getting too high or too low.”

All the while, lifting up an Indiana offense that has relied on him all season.

“He been the one constant,” Allen said.