Although the talent pool for linemen in Alabama is not as deep as normal this season, there is a player at a tradition-rich Montgomery school who has caught the interest of several schools around the South.
At 6-5, 300 with quick feet and the strength to move anyone in his way, Jamal Cooper is becoming one of the quick-rising stars in the state this season. A standout at defensive tackle for Robert E. Lee High School in Montgomery, Cooper's play this season has already earned him a scholarship offer from one school and the undivided attention of several others. Leading his team to a 6-3 record and a playoff berth with 66 tackles and nine sacks, the powerful Cooper says that he has several colleges in mind and is waiting on offers from most, offers he believes will come soon.
"I'm hearing from Auburn, LSU, UAB, Middle Tennessee State, Georgia, Ole Miss and Louisville," he notes. "UAB is just offering me right now but I think some others will as well."
"It's probably between Auburn and LSU," Cooper notes of his favorite teams at this point. "Auburn is winning and they are young. They'll have a chance to compete for a national championship in a couple of years. I've been to Auburn a couple of times, the last time for Florida. It was great. I knew they (Auburn) had a good team, but I didn't know that they were that good."
A photo of Cooper taken at the 2001 Jackson Hospital Capital City Combine in Montgomery.
As for LSU, the thought of early playing time is what has Cooper's attention. Losing several key defensive linemen off this year's team, the Bengal Tigers will have needs up front and Cooper says that is something that will keep LSU in the hunt until the very end.
A two-year starter for the Generals, Cooper says that he has several things he feels are the strengths to his game and also several things he's working on improving. "I can rush the passer real good, " he notes. "I'm a good run stopper as well. I'm trying to work on my outside pass rush, when I'm on the end I need to get off my man quicker."
Growing up an Alabama fan and following the Crimson Tide closely, Cooper says that it has always been his dream to play college football. Although he's receiving "off-and-on" interest from Alabama, Cooper says that he's not really considering them at this time and is looking in other directions.
Waiting to see how his recruiting plays out before scheduling any official visits, Cooper says he is going to Middle Tennessee State this Saturday to watch the Blue Raiders in action. The Generals wrap up the regular season Friday night when they travel to Decatur. They open the playoffs with a game against the Vigor Wolves next week in Cramton Bowl.
Tiger Ticket Extra: An extremely strong player who benches 365 pounds three times and can squat 600 pounds, Cooper could very easily follow in another Robert E. Lee star's footsteps and become an SEC starter. Current Tennessee offensive guard Fred Weary is one of the more physical players in the league as a senior and Cooper has the same characteristics coming out of high school. If he puts in the hard work and long hours necessary in the coming years, Cooper could be a name to remember several years down the road just like Weary.