May 25, 2020

UChicago Male Athlete of the Year: Marco Cobian

Fourth-year Marco Cobian tosses the ball over his Beloit opponent's head.

University of Chicago Athletics / The Chicago Maroon

Marco Cobian’s path to becoming the starting quarterback of the University of Chicago Maroons was anything but conventional. However, it ultimately showed his greatest traits in terms of his competitiveness, his role as a teammate, and his ability to always be ready when given a chance. Throughout Cobian’s career, there were plenty of opportunities to take the easy way out and only focus on his studies at UChicago, although as coach Chris Wilkerson put it, “Every time Marco encountered any type of adverse situation he rolled up his sleeves, went back to work, and competed!” Having multiple seasons in which he came into the pre-season camp as the likely starter, but was then set back by injuries, Marco focused on the one thing he could do: be ready for whatever the team needed him to do. In the final three seasons of his career, there was a quarterback switch to put Cobian in for a spark, and every single time he delivered. 

To survive the setbacks that Cobian experienced, one truly has to be a selfless person, focusing on the team and not the individual. His fellow position group has always seen that side of him. George Krantz, a current third-year quarterback, said when asked to describe Cobian: “In playing the sport of football for over 15 years, I have never met, nor seen an individual embrace the idea of selflessness more than Marco Cobian…. As a teammate, he embodied the concept of putting the individual, or collective, before himself—finding fulfillment in success beyond just his position, title, or structure.” This focus on the team itself instead of the unluckiness that had plagued Cobian in the pre-season, speaks volumes. In fact, Cobian sometimes even played as wide receiver when not starting as quarterback, as Wilkerson commented: “He even played some WR during his career and that tells you a lot about the person. It was always about the team’s success for Marco. Our football team was 10–1 in games in which he played over 50 percent of the snaps at QB. He is a winner!” 

His competitiveness and grit was a common trait highlighted by coaches and players alike. For the last three seasons, Krantz has seen this firsthand. He emphasized that he “spent countless hours with Cobian during quarterback film studies, practice groups, weightlifting sessions, and more. Words can’t describe, nor express, the amount of grit, determination, and heart Marco conveys daily. Through position battles, position changes, and more, Marco never wavered, nor lost sight of his goals.” This is high praise from a fellow quarterback, but Wilkerson had even higher praise when discussing his competitiveness. “He is the absolutely grittiest competitor I have ever coached.” There may not be a better compliment to receive from a coach. 

Ultimately, when the team needed him most, Cobian delivered in his senior year. He finished up 6–1 in games that he played over 50 percent of the snaps, with the only loss being a one point heartbreaker in overtime against Monmouth University. Cobian completed his passes at an extremely high rate showing his comfort in the offense as his completion percentage of 64.5 percent is the second highest in a season in UChicago history. Finally, being awarded on the First-Team All-MWC and on the UAA All-Academic Team evidently showed that all the hard work was worth it. As Wilkerson put it, “Marco’s story is one of triumph over adversity…. [He) will be dearly missed. Due to all of this, The Chicago Maroon has named Marco Cobian the Men’s Athlete of the Year and wish him the absolute best in his future endeavors.