Recruiting Report Surprises Cooper

All-State offensive lineman Jared Cooper discusses the latest on his recruitment.

Brewton, Ala.--Jared Cooper says he was rather surprised to learn via a television report on Wednesday night that Auburn had offered him a chance to sign football scholarship papers and join the team as a part of the 2007 freshman class.

There was a good reason for the high school senior's surprise. The television report was not true.

Cooper, one of the state's top offensive line prospects from W.S. Neal High School, is verbally committed to the Tigers, something he decided to do after making an official visit to check out Coach Tommy Tuberville's Tigers over the weekend. However, new University of Alabama coach Nick Saban is trying to get Cooper to change his mind and take a scholarship offer from the Tide.

Saban made a lengthy in-person visit with the Class 4A Player of the Year on Monday night to try to turn him to the Tide.

Auburn has promised Cooper a scholarship in January, which means he could be grayshirt this fall if he heads off to Auburn. A player who does the grayshirt plan goes to school as a part-time student paying his own way fall semester and is put on scholarship the next semester when a scholarship slot opens. By enrolling as a part-time student, the eligibility clock doesn't begin, which means Cooper would have five years to play four seasons if he goes to Auburn.

In Cooper's case, he was also told by Auburn coaches that there could be a scholarship waiting for him when classes start at AU in August and that will depend on whether or not the Tigers are under or over the limit of 85 scholarship players when 2007 preseason practices begin.

Cooper hasn't received as much recruiting attention as some other prospects in the state, but that has changed in recent days.

"A lot of it is good," says the 6-4, 285-pounder, an honor student who was invited to be a guest on a radio show Wednesday night with former University of Alabama recruiting coordinator Ronnie Cottrell.

"I also found that a lot of stuff that you hear about yourself you find out for the first time when everybody else finds out," he adds.

Explaining that statement, Cooper says, "I just found on one of our local news stations (WEAR television) had just reported that Auburn had come back with a full offer and now it was even between Auburn and Alabama and all of that kind of stuff. It has gotten all kind of crazy."

Cooper says that report isn't accurate because Auburn is still recruiting him with the grayshirt offer he already had in hand. Coach James Willis, who recruits that part of the state for the Tigers, was in touch with the lineman by text message on Wednesday, Cooper notes. However, the big lineman also notes that nothing has changed with the status of Auburn's offer.

On Saban's visit to Brewton where he spent time in a hospital, where Cooper was being treated for mononucleosis, the new Tide coach was trying to convince Cooper to take an official visit to Alabama this weekend. The lineman, who is still committed to the Tigers, says that after talking over the situation with his parents that he is not planning to visit the Tide this week. "We have about decided to go on just a one-day unofficial visit," Cooper says. "We aren't exactly sure the day it will be. It is not going to be this weekend. It will be sometime during the next week."

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