Former Gophers football coach Tim Brewster has become one of the most successful recruiters in the country since he joined Jimbo Fisher’s staff at Florida State as the recruiting coordinator and tight ends coach in 2013.

Heading into the 2013 season the Seminoles had the 10th-ranked class in the nation. In 2014, Brewster’s first full season of recruiting, they ranked fourth, in 2015 they ranked third, in 2016 they ranked second and this year’s class ranked fifth. There’s no doubt that when it comes to landing some of the best players in the country, Brewster knows what he’s doing.

One of those recruits was Dalvin Cook, who the Vikings selected in the second round of the 2017 NFL draft and figures to be a featured back this season for Mike Zimmer’s squad.

Cook was ranked as the second-best running back in the nation in the Class of 2014, the 18th-best player overall and the third-best player in Florida. And he had every team in the country after him. But Brewster secured his commitment to Florida State.

“I committed to like three schools, committed to Memphis and Florida, Florida State. My recruiting was up-and-down and I enjoyed it,” Cook recalled. “Towards the end it was just Coach Tim Brewster who recruited me hard. He was a coach that I put a lot of trust in, and I felt very comfortable with him.”

Cook clearly showed that his relationship with Brewster was unique.

“I can tell you I know a lot about him and he knows a lot about me, my family. He’s the coach I really leaned on, and stuff like that,” Cook said. “He recruited me out of high school, and we have a great relationship to this day. We are tight.

“Coach Brewster is one of the great coaches that I look up to, and he’s a father figure to me.”

Breaking down Cook

When asked what kind of a running back the Vikings got in Cook, Brewster didn’t mince words.

“Dalvin Cook is a special player,” Brewster said. “He is one of those rare kinds of backs that he just, you know he has tremendous acceleration, tremendous acceleration. He is an absolute home-run hitter, and he can get you tough yards.

“He can get you 3-, 4-, 5-yard gains. But any time you hand him the ball, he is a threat to go 80, he is a threat to go score a touchdown. He combines great toughness with just elite speed.”

Brewster got to see up-close what Cook was capable of, and in his three seasons at Florida State, he broke every major rushing record in school history.

His 4,464 rushing yards are first all-time, topping Warrick Dunn’s mark. Cook’s 2015 single-season rushing yardage of 1,691 set a record at FSU, until he broke it last season with 1,765. And his 46 career rushing scores broke Greg Allen’s mark from the 1980s.

One thing that Brewster said Cook really improved on was his receiving, which the Vikings are expecting take advantage of this season. Cook caught 22 passes for 203 yards as a freshman, 24 passes for 244 yards as a sophomore and 33 passes for 488 yards as a junior.

“He is much improved as a pass receiver; it’s still an area where he can continue to grow or he can continue to improve,” Brewster said. “But we really felt good about his development as a pass catcher, you know as his career progressed here at Florida State. And I really think in the NFL he will be a very good pass receiver.”

And when it comes to questions about Cook’s character, stemming from three incidents with police during his freshman season, Brew- ster said that is all in the past.

“There were a couple of things there, but really nothing to really write about,” he said. “You know like a lot of that stuff, it’s overblown. I just think [Vikings General Manager] Rick Spielman did a tremendous job on his research of Dalvin. And Rick Spielman got a top-10 talent, a first-round pick, and he got Dalvin in the second [round]. It just is an amazing value for the Vikings.”

Strong relationship

Brewster’s relationship with Cook goes far beyond the field.

“Dalvin is my guy. I mean a special, special guy,” he said. “We got a special relationship, and you know he knows he can count on me. He is going to be an absolute winner. I mean he is a next-in-line person.

“I know that there were questions about his character and that type of stuff, but I am just going to tell you that you can trust Dalvin Cook.”

When asked what sets Cook apart, Brewster talked about his love for the game.

“I think that is the other thing said about Dalvin that is really unique, or it’s not unique, but his teammates all love him,” he said. “I mean he is just a great, great teammate. You know he is a guy that he treats the punters and kickers with respect, treats the ball boy with respect. He is just going to be loved by the Vikings and by the fans of the Vikings. They are going to love Dalvin.”

Jottings

• Vikings receiver Adam Thielen has a special connection to training camp in Mankato, having played his college football at Minnesota State Mankato. He talked about approaching his last camp there. “This will be my 10th camp here including college, so it’s going to be a little different not coming to Mankato anymore,” he said. “But I’m going to enjoy this last one. I love seeing the people that have watched me throughout college and now through the NFL. It’s fun to see those people come out and say, ‘Hey I watched you in college, I saw your games in college.’ ”

• While ESPN personality Stephen A. Smith said that Kyrie Irving’s preferred destination is with the Wolves, the Vegas odds have them as the sixth-most likely destination behind the Cavaliers, Knicks, Suns, Celtics and Nuggets.

• Former Twins reliever Pat Neshek, who has had a tremendous season with the Phillies, was traded to the Colorado Rockies on Wednesday. Before the trade, Phillies President of Baseball Operations Andy MacPhail didn’t mince words about what he thinks of Neshek. “He has been terrific. He is probably not long for us, but he has done a terrific job,” MacPhail said. And what turned him around? “I don’t know, he has probably a little bit more velocity and he has been able to get lefthanded hitters out.”

• Former Twins pitcher Anthony Swarzak, enjoying the best season of his career, was traded by the White Sox to the Brewers on Wednesday. He picked up his first major league save Monday in a 3-1 victory over the crosstown-rival and World Series champion Cub. Entering Wednesday, Swarzak was 4-3 this season with 52 strikeouts in 48 ⅓ innings and a 2.23 ERA.

 

Sid Hartman can be heard on WCCO AM-830 at 8:40 a.m. Monday and Friday, 2 p.m. Friday and 10:30 a.m. Sunday. shartman@startribune.com