Written by: TJ Inman (@TJHoosierHuddle)
He looks the part. A lanky 6’4” body with an impressive wing span make Simmie Cobbs Jr. looks like the ideal target for a quarterback. Two-thirds of the way through his sophomore season, Cobbs is beginning to play like an ideal target as well.
Simmie Cobbs Jr. came to IU after a successful high school career in Oak Park, Illinois. He was expected to step in as a freshman and replace departed stars like Cody Latimer and Kofi Hughes. Of course, those expectations were outsized, even for a tall guy like Cobbs. He debuted with three catches for 57 yards including an impressive leaping 34-yard catch in the season opener against Indiana State. However, those 57 yards were the most he’d have all season and he’d fail to catch more than one ball in any remaining game. In addition, a guy that seemed suited to excel in the red zone would catch no touchdowns. On the season, he only caught seven passes for 114 yards. As a group, the receivers were a disappointment as they struggled with drops and consistency. Trying to catch passes from a true freshman third-string quarterback certainly didn’t help but still, the 6’4” Cobbs was mostly invisible for much of his freshman season.
Entering his sophomore season, Cobbs Jr. and the rest of the wide receiver corps worked on getting rid of the drops that plagued them in 2014. They also worked on improving their routes and becoming more available for the quarterback. The hard work (and health) has paid off for Ricky Jones and he’s received the accolades he deserves. However, Cobbs has begun to emerge and he appears to be well on his way to fulfilling the promise he entered Bloomington with.
In games that Nate Sudfeld has played in, Simmie Cobbs Jr. has at least three catches and 50 yards. He’s matched the seven catches he had in 2014 on two separate occasions this season (at Wake Forest and vs. Rutgers) and he’s had four catches of 40 yards or more. Cobbs has also reached the end zone three times (including a 37-yard touchdown against Michigan State). The last two games, despite being losses for the Hoosiers, have been the best two games of Cobbs’ career. He caught seven passes for 107 yards against Rutgers and five passes for 108 yards with a touchdown against the Spartans.
Being 6’4” puts Cobbs at an advantage against nearly every defensive back he plays against. He’s added strength which has definitely helped him on the sideline comeback routes he’s been using recently to help IU move the chains. Against Michigan State, the Hoosiers used Cobbs on 8-10 yard out routes with great success and I’d expect to see more moving forward. Sudfeld is able to fire the ball to the outside quickly and the height of Cobbs allows for a low-risk ball to be thrown (most corners are not capable of picking off a pass thrown near the top of where Cobbs can snatch a pass). We’ve also seen Sudfeld take some deep shots to Cobbs (as previously noted, four plays of more than 30 yards). These have mostly been down the sideline but the touchdown against MSU came on a deep inside post that Cobbs caught in the middle of the end zone. Mitchell Paige has emerged as a viable slot option and Ricky Jones is leading the Hoosiers with 37 receptions. Add in Cobbs and IU has three reliable receiving options for Nate Sudfeld to throw to and for the Hoosiers to build upon for the future.
So far this season, Simmie Cobbs Jr. has 34 receptions for 532 yards. The 34 receptions and 532 yards are both good for eighth in the B1G. There’s still plenty to improve upon; he needs to win more 50/50 balls and he should be more of a red zone threat than he’s been to this point. However Cobbs, a true sophomore, is starting to come into his own and it certainly seems like he’s starting to back up his prototype look with some excellent play.