One of the more impressive prospects Inside ECU Sports observed over the summer was OL Jonathan Cooper from Hoggard High School in Wilmington, NC. He had solid showings at both the Adidas camp held at NC State and the Scout.com combine held in Charlotte. The 6-3, 305 pounder has been timed at 5.13-seconds in the 40-yard dash and has seen his stock soar with college scouts recently. Inside ECU Sports caught up with Hoggard head coach Scott Braswell to find out how his star lineman has progressed over the last few months.
"He's done an exceptional job this summer," said Braswell. "Every camp he's gone to, he's left with an offer. And I just think that's the impression he leaves on people with his athleticism and size. The one issue people were worried about was his height. But when South Carolina offers you, I think that's a strong statement. Right now he's got offers from South Carolina, UNC, Wake Forest, Duke, East Carolina and Buffalo. I think, probably, UNC, South Carolina and Wake are the leaders."
Cooper has a tremendous personality and an easy-going demeanor. Braswell said that has translated well with his teammates but Cooper is now beginning to take on the leadership qualities expected of a senior.
"He's done a great job and worked hard for us," Braswell said.. "He's starting to assert himself more as a leader which is something we need him to be because he's very popular with his teammates and they respond to him well."
While watching Cooper, he possesses incredible natural strength and is one of the more proficient offensive linemen in the state. However, Braswell said there's still room for improvement.
"He needs to improve on his pad level," he said. "Those big guys like to get their pads up so we just need to get them lower.
"And then I think he needs to become more of a physical force on the field. As strong as he is in the weight room, with the number she has, he ought to just be a dominant force on the field physically and we're starting to see growth in that area. I think he's starting to learn how to use his body and pad level and leverage are a part of that."
Because of his strength and talent, Cooper may not be limited to just duty along the offensive line. He could figure into a few snaps on defense as well.
"He's going to play some defensive line," said Braswell. "But we're working him probably at defensive end. I think he's going to be a guy that may not be getting 40 snaps on defense. But as he grows into it, he may be in on situational snaps."