RECRUITING: Pace Picking Up For Riley Cooper

The pace has picked up significantly for Clearwater Central Catholic wide receiver Riley Cooper. After losing their first two games of the season, the Marauders have reeled off ten straight wins and will attempt to eliminate yet another opponent from the FHSAA state playoff race this Friday night. Personally, Cooper has narrowed the field of college choices just in time for Christmas.

(Riley Cooper profile)

"I've narrowed it down to three --- Oklahoma State, Florida, and Tennessee," Cooper said. "And, I've visited those three. I would say that Notre Dame and USC are the other two teams that I have some interest in. I'm going to try and set up a visit at Notre Dame. I'm not sure about USC though, that one is up for grabs right now."

Cooper (6-4, 205) is presently focused on helping his team advance past Sarasota Cardinal Mooney once again. The Marauders defeated Mooney 21-16 a month ago, and clinched the district title in doing so. Cooper played a key role in the outcome. He hauled in an 80-yard touchdown reception, knocked down a pass on a goal line stand, and by giving his defense some much needed room, when he launched a punt 60 yards from his own goal line.

A win by the Marauders would more than likely sent them south to face powerful Pahokee next weekend.

Offensively, Cooper has 32 receptions for 535 yards and seven touchdowns. He is second on the team in scoring. Defensively, he has recorded 90 tackles (third on the squad), two interceptions, and nine passes defended.

The speedster (4.37/40) is one of the most gifted athletes in the Pinellas Country. Besides, being a top prospect at wide receiver or free safety, Cooper is regarded as one of the top baseball prospects in the land.

"I went to Tennessee (last week) and had a great trip," He said. "I got to speak with (Tennessee baseball coach) Rod Delmonico for awhile. They had a lot of their baseball commits there, so that was great to hang out with them for awhile and talk. That was really neat. (Quarterback Erik) Ainge was my host on the trip. He took me out to meet baseball and football players and get the inside scoop on what the program and coaches are all about."

Florida is the only state school that he listed among his three favorites and two darkhorses. He tripped to Gainesville for an official visit when the Gators defeated the Vols 16-7 earlier this year and enjoyed his visit.

"Coach (Urban) Meyer text messages me about once or twice a week now," he said. "I still get a lot of mail from them. I've already met Coach (Pat) McMahon. He's a great guy."

"I wanna verbally commit and get it done pretty soon," Cooper stated. "I'm shooting for before Christmas if possible, but that could change."

Obviously, he has seen plenty of the Vols this season. That may or may not just be a coincidence. He wasn't ready to tip his hand, other than saying that he had narrowed it down to three. It appears the Florida coaches are serious about Cooper wearing the Orange and Blue. Tennessee is throwing high heat, and as a former baseball player, Urban Meyer understands what to do with his pitch.

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