Tight End Attracting Pac-10 Attention

Merced (Calif.) tight end Kenny Cooper played in only six games in the 2007 season. Yet even his partial resume still earned him all-area, all-district and all-conference honors in 2007, and more importantly scholarship offers from three schools. Arizona State is the latest program to extend Cooper an offer and Devils Digest caught up with him tonight to get the latest on his recruitment.

"My coach told me that ASU called last week and offered me a scholarship," said the 6-4 235 Kenny Cooper. "They've been recruiting me since the end of last season. I like the program, they were pretty productive last year and I think I can come in there and play right away. So, I have big hopes for Arizona State."

Cooper suffered a concussion in week 2, and was able to come back for the home stretch of the season for Merced who finished 11-1. The tight end collected 130 yards on five catches and a touchdown. "I'm very physical (max bench press 280 lbs.) and I like to create mismatches when I run routes," he said of his skills. "I still need to work on some fundamentals and get quicker."

The Merced standout added that he also played defensive end, inside linebacker and safety for his team. "Some schools are looking at me both at tight end and defensive end," he explained. "Arizona State said that they wanted me to come to camp and then they would see what position was best for me."

Arizona and Washington State are the other two schools who extended offers, and the tight end feels that other Pac-10 teams may be following suit in the near future. "I just came back from Cal last weekend and that's a school I've been in contact a lot and I've been there a few times," stated Cooper. "I think they'll offer pretty soon. Washington has been talking a lot to my coaches and they could be offering soon."

By his own admission Cooper is a University of Miami fan and he noted that his coach has made contact with Hurricanes in hopes that they will put him on their recruiting radar. The tight end mentioned that North Carolina, LSU Illinois and Alabama are some other schools that have made inquiries about him.

"Playing close would be nice," said Cooper on his preference of playing close to home. "I'm originally from the Bay Area and I have a lot of family there, so playing there would be nice. But I just wanna go somewhere where I can play right away, feel comfortable and fit in so wherever that is it doesn't matter if it's close or not."

Cooper is excited for the upcoming season and believes that once again Merced can enjoy a solid regular season with a deep run into the playoffs. "We have four, five D-I prospects on our team and we have a lot of talent" he noted. "Two years ago we went all the way to the section finals and lost there. This year we want to get back there and win it all."

The tight end attended a Nike SPARQ camp at Cal and plans to return to the Bay Are in a few weeks for the Stanford Nike combine. "I'm definitely going to the Cal team camp," he stated. "Arizona, Arizona State and Washington State all want me to come to their camps. I'm not sure which ones I'm gonna go to right now."

In terms of favorite school, Cooper put Cal at the top of the list because of the familiarity factor, but also stated that he has been impressed with both Arizona schools. Whatever his college decision ends up being, he's doesn't believe that he will pledge early in the season.

"I wanna take a few official visits before making my decision," he explained. "I don't wanna rush into a decision and then it ends up that I don't wanna go there. I'm gonna try to take some visits during the season, but definitely take some visits after the season is over too."

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