Cobbs is suspended for season

Massachusetts football coach Mark Whipple had planned on R.J. Cobbs making a large contribution for his football team this season as a tailback, wide receiver, kick returner and defensive back.

Instead, the reigning Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Year will make no contribution whatsoever, as it was announced Tuesday that the Parsippany Hills, N.J. native will not play for the remainder of the season.

Cobbs, who had missed the Minutemen’s first four contests due to what was deemed as “academic discipline,” is now academically ineligible, according to Whipple. He will continue to practice with the team, and will have two years of athletic eligibility remaining at University of Massachusetts.

The 5 foot 11, 190 pound sophomore came to Amherst as a defensive back in 2001, and was redshirted before being moved to tailback prior to the 2002 campaign.

The move proved fruitful for Whipple and the Minutemen, as Cobbs broke Marcel Shipp’s freshman rushing record in amassing 1,067 yards on 192 carries. He became just the third rusher in A-10 history to break the 1,000 yard mark as a freshman, joining New Hampshire’s Jerry Azumah and Connecticut’s Tory Taylor. His 15 touchdowns led UMass in scoring, as did his 1,268 all-purpose yards. In his final game of 2003, he put up five scores, tying a conference record.

Whipple had intended to use Cobbs as the Maroon and White’s first regular two-way player, at cornerback and as a flanker, since Don Caparotti split time between receiver and defensive back in the early 1990s.

The Minutemen are currently 3-1 (2-0 A-10) on the season, with wins over conference rivals Maine and James Madison, and are ranked ninth in The Sports Network’s I-AA poll.

Sophomore Raunny Rosario began the season as Cobbs’s replacement in the backfield, but was injured early in the team’s season opener and is out indefinitely.

Fellow sophomore Steve Baylark, who is in his first season with the Minutemen, is currently the team’s starting tailback, and has rushed for 436 yards on 100 carries with four touchdowns on the season. He was named A-10 Rookie of the Week following a 35 carry, 146 yard performance against James Madison Saturday.

Massachusetts returns to action this Saturday, as they will host New Hampshire at Warren P. McGuirk Alumni Stadium for Family Day. Kickoff is slated for 1 p.m.