North Carolina A&T running back Tarik Cohen runs a drill at the NFL combine in Indianapolis on Friday, March 3, 2017.
(Michael Conroy / AP)
Two years ago, North Carolina receiver Ryan Switzer started a bit of a trend.
In a video the Tar Heels football program posted on social media, Switzer showed off his skills catching a football while doing a back flip. The buzz from that feat carried north to Durham, where North Carolina Central defensive back Sayyid Muhammadmastered the trick. And that carried back west to Greensboro, where North Carolina A&T running back Tarik Cohen felt his competitive urges stimulated.
Cohen, whom the Bears picked Saturday in the fourth round of the NFL draft, mastered the back-flip catch, then increased the degree of difficulty. He completed a back flip while making a one-handed catch, then somehow managed to nail a back flip while catching two balls at once. The proof is readily available on YouTube.
"He was making me so mad doing that," North Carolina A&T running backs coach Shawn Gibbs said. "He sent me the video. And obviously, it's 'Wow!' And then I'm like, 'OK, stop doing that.'
"Then he sent me another one. And then came the one with two balls, and I'm thinking, 'Whoa! That's unbelievable! But for real, can you please stop doing that?'"
The Bears won't ask Cohen to do flips in their offense. But in investing the 119th overall pick in him, they made it clear they value his speed, agility and potential to become a change-of-pace back.
Cohen is only 5-foot-6 but ran the 40-yard dash in 4.42 seconds at the scouting combine. It was the third-fastest time among running backs this year.
"I was disappointed," he said. "I wanted to run sub-4.4"