Casey Cobb doesn’t question life after baseball. He’s known for years that he will enlist in the United States Navy once he’s done with college. So when his senior season was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it stood to reason that he would forge ahead with the plan.
Then the NCAA came along with the decision to grant all spring sports athletes an extra year of eligibility. Cobb’s mindset was carved into giving everything he had to baseball in 2020, then giving everything he had to the Navy. The prospect of more baseball was one he had to wrestle with.
“Once I starting thinking about how much I love this place, I love the guys and I love playing here, it was a pretty easy decision,” Cobb said.
Cobb relayed that sentiment to University of Alabama coach Brad Bohannon, who was eager to welcome Cobb back for the 2021 season. Cobb is the first UA senior to publicly commit to returning for the 2021 team, and he spoke about that decision with Tidesports.com.
“It took me a little bit of time, but not too much time,” Cobb said. “It was pretty quick, but there was a lot of thought into it, if that makes sense.
“There’s not many cons about coming back, which is mainly the reason I decided to come back.”
Cobb was one of UA’s better bullpen arms in the shortened 2020 season, dealing a bullpen leading 12 1/3 innings with eight hits and one run allowed, striking out 14.
Of course Bohannon was more than willing to have that arm back in his bullpen.
“It was really easy. Casey had a strong desire to come back and I had a strong desire for him to be back,” Bohannon said. “Casey’s a big get for us because for two years we’ve been talking about how inexperienced we are. Casey’s got experience and he really improved dramatically from last year to this year. I’m not sure if everybody truly got to see what kind of jump he made. He’s going to be a valuable piece of what we try to accomplish next year.
“His secondary pitches made huge improvements, he and (pitching coach Jason Jackson) did a good job together. He really shortened and tightened his slider, and his changeup had gone from a solid offering to an above-average pitch he was getting swing and miss with.”
UA is still awaiting decisions from other seniors. Brett Auerbach is likely to test his fate in whatever form the 2020 MLB Draft takes, while Walker McCleney, Dylan Oliver, Kyle Cameron and William Freeman have yet to make their intents known publicly. Kolby Robinson has already declared he will not play the 2021 season and Justin King is in the transfer portal; Johnny Hawk planned to return in 2021 anyway, using 2020 as a redshirt season to recover from injury.
While they wait, Cobb will spend another year honing his baseball craft. The Navy can wait; Cobb is already working on the workout program and throwing program sent to him by UA coaches, hoping to be even better in 2021.
“Obviously think the world of Casey as a young man and as a baseball player,” Bohannon said, “he’s certainly the type of kid we want our program to be all about and we’re just thankful to have him for another year.”