Like the other University of Arkansas football recruits on hand Saturday, Jonesboro offensive lineman Grant Cook left Reynolds Razorback Stadium with a big smile on his face.
That's because Cook (6-6, 310) liked not only what he saw on the field from the Razorbacks in their 24-23 double-overtime win over No. 22 Alabama, but what he saw in the stands during the contest.
"I just thought the whole thing was awesome," Cook said Tuesday night. "The atmosphere in Fayetteville was just incredible. It just doesn't get any better than it was on Saturday. The team never gave up and neither did the fans. They could have gotten frustrated and left, but everyone stayed and they cheered from early to late just like they did against USC. I can't say enough about the fans and the team."
It was also a pick-me-up for Cook, whose Jonesboro team had lost 21-14 to previously winless Forrest City the night before in its homecoming game.
Instead of a 3-1 start and a 1-0 mark in 6A-East Conference play, Jonesboro is now 2-2 and looking up in the league race.
"I just think we took them for granted and got burned," Cook said. "That's just not something you can do and we paid for it."
What made the loss even worse is that Cook had been one of four football players, 26 cheerleaders and 40 band members who had gone to the five elementary schools for pep rallies a week earlier y to help drum up support for a new spirit program that is called Bleacher Creatures.
"It was just a real tough loss for us," Cook said.
It was the third straight week that the Hurricane had failed to score in the second half and the second time it cost them a win and came after a 48-34 win over Nettleton, a 14-7 win over Wynne and a 28-14 loss to Osceola to start the season.
"I don't know what is going on with that," Cook said. "The first and second quarters we have just looked great and then it's not been happening in the second half for us. We need to get that taken care of quickly."
He will be trying to do so with a an offensive line that features all seniors.
"We've got a group of guys that all played together in the sixth grade and then split up and went to the two junior highs," Cook said. "We all came back together in the 10th grade and played junior varsity and now have played varsity the last two years. We have to be the leaders and help get it going and try to win out."
That will start with another league game at Jacksonville this Friday night.
"We have just got to be consistent," Cook said. "It's been strange. We will do something good and then a series of unfortunate events will happen. Got to get that stopped this weekend."
Cook lined up at tight end for the most part last season, but has grown from 6-6, 280 to 6-6, 310 and exclusively a tackle.
"I have lined up at tackle all the time this year," Cook said. "I think I have been playing pretty good. You can always get better. I have taken some plays off that I shouldn't have. Even if the ball is not going your way, that is just something you can't do and I have set my mind to not do that from here on out."
Cook, who chose Arkansas over Oklahoma State among others, has had Miami and Tennessee calling him still along with Ole Miss and Missouri.
He has not ruled out taking official visits to Miami and Tennessee, who have both invited him to do so with the full knowledge that he is committed to Arkansas.
Arkansas head coach Houston Nutt and assistant Danny Nutt – who Cook considers like his uncles because he has known them and their nephew Logan so long – know he might take the trips.
"I talked to Danny and Houston about it and they said ‘that's fine, do what you think you have to do,'" Cook said. "I just think I would like to take some more visits and get to experience the recruiting process. But I consider myself a solid commitment to Arkansas."