Football Feature Friday: Delbert Cowsette, Bringing Strong Experience to UAlbany
By: Bob Weiner for UAlbany Athletics
ALBANY, N.Y. – You don’t have to be physical specimens like NFL stars J.J. Watt of the Houston Texans or Khalil Mack of the Oakland Raiders to impress University at Albany defensive line coach Delbert Cowsette. But you better have a nose for the football if you expect to wear a Great Danes’ uniform.
Cowsette is in his fourth year as a member of the UAlbany football coaching family, and the former NFL defensive lineman understands there is not just one successful prototype at his favorite position.
“You like long and lean athletic-type guys, but this position is so diverse,” Cowsette said. “We have guys who are 320 pounds. There are guys who are 6-foot-2 and 340 pounds, but we also have guys who are 5-11 and 270. It just depends on the guy and what he can learn or play. How he plays is what it’s all about. We will coach guys in what they know how to do. We won’t put a guy in a mold. When you play defensive lineman, we like to allow the guys to play to their abilities instead of making them all do the same thing.”
Cowsette knows a good DL prospect just by watching a few plays. “I think for what we want here at UAlbany, we like the size and speed combination. Can he run? Is he quick and fast? But we also like guys who are getting to the football on a regular basis. Those things stick out on film,” he said. “We recruit guys who can deal with certain spots. Coach Gattuso and I like guys who can make moves, are strong at the point of attack and can play against double teams. They must be able to use their hands well.”
Cowsette pointed out that UAlbany already has several different types of players on its first line of defense. Malachi Hoskins returns at 6-3 and 230 pounds, while DaeSean Timmons checks in at 5-11 and 262.
“The beauty and the curse of playing that position is that there are all different kinds of players and all different roles for them to play,” Cowsette noted. “We have a guy like Malachi Hopkins who is extremely athletic and knows how to get to the football. Then we have Nick Griffin. He’ll battle anybody in the trenches and take on the double team. He clears up the gaps. A guy like DaeSean Timmons creates his own plays. They are all different, but they all add value to our front. For me, I was between Malachi and Timmons when I played. I had enough talent and explosive ability, but I was always undersized. I knew how to get to the football, though. In the end, you want everyone to finish the same. It’s all about the effort. If you are running to the ball all the time, you will see those guys on film on every play. That’s what we like to see.”
A four-year starter and an All-ACC selection as a senior captain at Maryland, Cowsette was drafted by the Washington Redskins played in the NFL from 2000 to 2006 for the New York Giants, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Chicago Bears.
“In my first NFL game, I sacked (former St. Louis Rams QB) Curt Warner on the 1-yard line. It should have been a safety,” Cowsette recalled. “I was the guy who made the play. It was a big-time play at an important part of the game. That was one of the things that stood out for me in my career. Just being there in the NFL was great. I played for and was coached by some of the better players and coaches in the league. When I talk to the guys about my career, I tell them about the players who molded me. It was certainly a great feeling to play in the NFL. I remember trying to make my mark. I had some injuries that stopped that, but I remember having a strong start to my career. Any time you spend a day in the NFL, you’ve known you’ve made it,” he said.
Cowsette said he recalls NFL Hall of Famer Larry Allen, a former standout guard and 11-time Pro Bowl selection for the Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers, and former Philadelphia Eagles center Hank Fraley being the toughest offensive linemen he ever faced.
“I’m sure Larry Allen doesn’t even know I ever existed, but he was big and strong, just like a wall,” Cowsette said. “He was unbelievable. I played against him in 2001 and 2002. He was an unbelievable player who was very athletic and as strong as an ox.
“When it comes to Hank FFF, he was just a regular dude who didn’t impress you much when you first saw him. But he was so god with everything he did. He had good hands, was strong and really smart. He kind of caught me off guard when I played him.”
After his NFL career, Cowsette began his coaching run as an assistant at Maryland for four seasons. He had two different coaching stints at Hampton University, where he coached a pair of All-Americans. Cowsette later was the assistant defensive line coach for the Virginia Destroyers of the UFL. The Destroyers won the 2011 UFL championship and finished first in every defensive statistical category.
In his first season at UAlbany, Cowsette mentored Great Danes’ defensive unit that led the nation in turnover margin (1.25) and fumble recoveries (20).
Cowsette is a co-founder of the Premiere Intermediate Football League and owns the non-profit youth organization In Between The Lines.
MEET ANTOINE WALKER, 2017 UAlbany NLI Signee
Antoine Walker is a 6-foot-2, 290-pound defensive lineman who transferred from Penn State University. He was a two-year captain and played three seasons for Millville High School in Millville, N.J.
Walker, a 20-year-old Philadelphia native, played for Penn State University last year and competed in both the Big Ten Championship and the Rose Bowl. He made 80 tackles, had 14 tackles for a loss and registered 5 sacks for the Nittany Lions.
“I’m really excited about Antoine,” Cowsette said. “He understands the process. He’s an older guy, and he’s on a mission. After having a good conversation with him, we’re trying to help him get even better. He’s the guy you talk about who is really explosive. He has uncanny speed for his size, and he changes things up on you.
‘We’re going to give him a great opportunity to earn a job with us,” Cowsette said. “He’ll definitely have a role on this team. He adds much needed depth to our defensive line. He’s an older guy who understands the game, and he loves it.”
UAlbany football season tickets are now on sale for the 2017 season. Prices start as low as $75. For more information, visit ualbanysports.com/tickets or call the UAlbany ticket office directly at 518-442-DANE.