You’ll remember Avon Cobourne as the leading rusher in the history of West Virginia and the Big East and you may very well think of him as the player who allowed Rich Rodriguez to recruit the likes of Steve Slaton and Noel Devine because he was so special on and off the field.
His story is a great one, from the torn-up knee in high school that eliminated virtually all of the college interest in him all the way to his ascension to the rushing record and every defining moment of talent and determination in between. His professional career has followed similarly — too small, too slow, yet too good to cast aside — and tonight it may finally turn for him once and for all.
“Nothing’s ever come easy to me, and I didn’t expect this to. But now I’ve ended up where I should be.”
Cobourne left West Virginia as that university’s all-time rushing leader, gaining more than 5,100 yards while scoring 42 touchdowns. He came to the Als last season after stints in the NFL with Detroit and Miami. But Robert Edwards was firmly entrenched in Montreal’s backfield, so Cobourne made his mark on special teams. With a 95-yarder, he had the CFL’s longest field-goal return.
But Cobourne was stunned when he reported to training camp this year, was handed a red jersey – given to defensive players – and told he would practise at linebacker. Not only were there physical limitations, but he hadn’t played the position.
“I picked it up well. But then (reality) set in and I realized I’m not a linebacker. It wasn’t what I wanted to do. I had to think what was more important – the cheque or my pride? I need the money, so I did it for my family,” he said.
An injury to starer Jarrett Peyton will allow Cobourne to start at running back for the Canadian Football League’s Montreal Alouettes tonight and does anyone think this won’t work out for Avon?
“I appreciate the fact they’ve kept me around. They’ll see my work ethic, drive and passion for the game. I’ll bring a spark,” Cobourne said. “This is the right opportunity. The team we’re playing won’t lay down. If I play well, I’ll prove something to myself.”