By JASON STRICKLAND
(WARRENSBURG, Mo., digitalBURG) – Walking through the tunnel, hearing the roar of the crowd and playing football in some of the biggest sports venues in the U.S. – this is what former Mules football player DeMarco Cosby loves about being in the NFL.
“You can’t beat that feeling,” Cosby said.
Cosby is the Mules’ all-time leader among tight ends in receptions (141), receiving yards (2,146) and touchdowns (20). In 2010, which was his senior season, Cosby broke single-season records for a tight end in receptions (71), yards (970) and touchdowns (10).
He was signed to the Kansas City Chiefs’ practice squad on Nov. 14, and has spent time with the St. Louis Rams and the Green Bay Packers.
After going undrafted in 2011, Cosby signed with the Rams and played in all four preseason games but was released after that.
The Rams signed him to the practice squad during the last week of the 2011 season, but he was released during the offseason when Jeff Fisher became the head coach.
The Packers picked him up during this year’s training camp, but he pulled his hamstring halfway through camp and was released before the season.
Before signing with the Chiefs, he was able to spend time with his family in Kansas City, Mo.
“I actually still live with my family, so just going home spending time with them,” Cosby said about what he does when he is not with a team.
Now that he is with the Chiefs, Cosby said there isn’t anything better than playing where he grew up.
“You can’t really ask for much more than playing with the hometown team that you grew up watching,” Cosby said. “It’s just a blessing. I couldn’t ask for a better situation.”
Cosby said he was never a huge Chiefs fan, but did root for them growing up. One of his favorite players, tight end Antonio Gates, is actually on a rival team – the San Diego Chargers.
Cosby and Gates share a background in basketball, as both played in high school.
“I think, ultimately, I ended up better at football than I was at basketball,” Cosby said.
Since Cosby is with the Chiefs, he said he tries to learn from tight end Tony Moeaki as well as the coaching staff.
For Cosby, transitioning to the NFL from UCM means more than just new teammates and coaches.
“In college you’re used to being the man, getting the ball and having plays called for you,” Cosby said. “In the NFL, you’re on the bottom of the totem pole. I don’t look at it as a bad thing, it just takes hard work to get to where I want to go.”
Cosby wants to eventually make the Pro Bowl, but he knows it is a step-by-step process.
“I just take it one day at a time,” Cosby said. “Right now, it’s just making the active roster. When I reach that goal it will be being a starter. After that, it will be just making plays and eventually it will be being a pro bowler, but I’ve got to get to the first goal before I can even think about the other ones.”
Of course, the Prow Bowl is for the top players in the NFL, but Cosby is used to being one of the best players on the field and having memorable moments.
Two moments that come to mind for Cosby are from the 2010 season. One was homecoming when they were down by 24 in the fourth quarter against Nebraska-Omaha and the other was the second round of the playoffs.
“We came back in the fourth quarter, and Jamorris Warren caught the game-winning touchdown,” Cosby said. “That was a pretty big moment. And beating Abilene Christian in the playoffs. They were ranked No. 2 in the country and were undefeated, and we went down there and whooped them pretty good. They were both pretty big moments.”
That touchdown to Warren was from 9 yards out, and the player who caught a 19-yard pass to get to the 9-yard line – Cosby.
In the 55-41 win over Abilene Christian, Cosby caught seven passes for 157 yards and a touchdown.
That 2010 season was the first for head coach Jim Svoboda with the Mules, and he said Cosby is similar to tight ends with the New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints and San Francisco 49ers.
“They have a number of tight ends that they utilize,” Svoboda said. “(Cosby) is like a lot of them now that they move around and put in space, and so he’s kind of like those guys.”
Svoboda said Cosby has a lot of potential, but a team needs to give him a chance to improve.
“The longer they (Chiefs) keep him around, the better he’ll get,” Svoboda said. “And he could have a long career in the NFL, in my opinion.”
Although Svoboda only coached Cosby for one season, they still keep in contact.
“We periodically text and so forth,” Svoboda said. “We just keep in touch with each other, and see how he is doing and how he’s progressing in the system.”
So far, no team has kept Cosby for much time, and Cosby is certainly not a fan of being a free agent.
“The least favorite part is when I’m not with a team,” Cosby said. “After I got released from the Rams, I’m just sitting at home and you’re uncertain about your future. You don’t know if you’re going to get another opportunity.”
Svoboda offered his advice for players in Cosby’s situation.
“You just have to really believe in your ability because you’re probably not going to get a lot of feedback along the way other than you’re still around,” Svoboda said. “That’s your feedback. The fact that you’re still around means that somebody thinks you’re good enough to be there.
“It is a business and (you need to) just stay strong in your belief, and be mentally tough is my advice for any guys coming from this level of football in particular.”
For now, Cosby is a Kansas City Chief and is focused on improving every day.
“(I’m) trying to pick up things and try to learn from (fellow tight ends), along with getting coaching from my coaches and trying to get better on a daily basis.”