What's Cook-ing at East?

BYU already has one running back from East High School on its roster. Fui Vakapuna ran over opponents as an East Leopard before he brought the pain as a blue-clad Cougar. Jake Cook is another talented East High ball carrier who is receiving recruiting attention from schools all over the west.

BYU's spring football camp made it clear that the Cougars are loaded at running back for years to come. BYU is set at running back until 2008 to be precise. In 2009, most if not all of the fearsome foursome that is Manase Tonga, Fui Vakapuna, Ray Hudson and Wayne Latu will have graduated. Harvey Unga and recently returned missionary Mike Hague will be left to man the Cougars' running game. Unga or Tonga could also be around in 2009 if either of them redshirts between now and then.

2009 may seem a long way off, but in missionary years it is much closer than it appears. What looks like BYU's deepest position today can quickly become a liability. Also, when coaches need a quick fix, LDS recruits with mission plans are not the way to go. Consider the following scenarios.

First, BYU sings an LDS running back in February of 2007. The running back turns 19 during his freshman year so he comes to BYU and plays or redshirts during the 2007 season then serves a mission during the 2008 and 2009 seasons. Finally he is back on the team for the 2010 season.

Second, BYU signs an LDS running back in February of 2007 who turns 19 before fall camp, so he goes directly on his mission out of high school. He is in the mission field for the 2007 and 2008 seasons and is back with the team for 2009 at which point he has not seen a single down of D-I football.

Third, BYU signs a non-LDS running back or an LDS back with no mission plans in February of 2007 who comes and plays four years from 2007 to 2010.

In light of these circumstances, look for Cougar coaches to sign one LDS running back who will start contributing in 2009 or 2010 and one non-LDS running back who will finish up at BYU in 2010. As it turns out, BYU does not need to leave the state of Utah to address its running back needs. The class of 2007 boasts at least three talented in-state running backs who are getting looks from out-of-state programs.

TotalBlueSports.com already spoke with Jordan High School's Houston Cassita, who is being recruited by many Pac-10 and Big XII schools. Earlier this week TBS interviewed East High School's Jake Cook and Grand County High School's Tanner Brown. Both Cook and Brown are on BYU's radar, but both also have an eye on the Pac-10.

A 5-foot-11, 180-pound speed back, Cook rushed for over 1700 yards and 14 touchdowns on 162 carries for an average of about 10½ yards per carry. He runs the 40 in the 4.4 second range and can do 14 reps with the 185-pound bar. Cook will do the full battery of tests at an upcoming combine.

"I'm going to this Nike combine in two weeks, which is down at Stanford, and then I was invited to the combine down there," said Cook. "I am actually taking a recruiting video down to Stanford. During the summer I'm going to the University of Utah summer camp, their junior day and BYU's junior day and team camp."

Right now, Stanford tops Cook's top five followed by BYU, Utah, Colorado and Arizona State. Cook hopes his 3.5 GPA will help his cause with Cardinal coaches. As far as the in state schools are concerned, Cook has yet to take sides in the Holy War. That may the case because he has his sights set out of state.

"I don't know; I haven't really made up my mind," said Cook about who he cheers for in the BYU-Utah game. "Stanford has been recruiting me pretty heavily right now and so is Colorado and so is Arizona State, so I'm just keeping my options open. When I go down to Stanford for my recruiting trip I think they are going to offer me."

Cook is well aware that he still has one more season of football left at East before he gets to live his college dreams. He expects East to be the best team in the 4A classification of Region 6, which includes Highland, Cottonwood, Granger, Cyprus, Murray, and Olympus. Of course the season would not be complete without a state title.

Personally, Cook hopes to add some weight during the summer to get him ready for the season. He would like to make a college choice by the end of the summer so he can focus one football in the fall. Wherever he ends up in college, Cook intends to play a season and then leave on an LDS mission. He would like to be dentist so he will pick a major that will help him get into dental school.

Speed is the name of the game for Cook. His style of play centers around his sub-4.5 40 time. Cook's description of his approach as a running back should evoke memories of former Cougar Luke Staley.

"I use my speed as an advantage," said Cook. "I am very quick so I let the field open up a little bit and then I just use my burst of speed to get through the hole. When I need to make a hit, I make a hit."

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