Elberton defensive coordinator Ron Duncan talked about the newest Illini.
"Valdon has flown under the radar. When we were having spring practice, he was competing in the state track meet. So many coaches didn't get to see him at that time.
"Illinois is getting a great player. I have coached many top athletes, and I believe Valdon is special."
Duncan said Cooper runs the forty yard dash under 4.4. He won the state of Georgia Class 3A long jump and was third in the 110 hurdles last spring. He also placed fourth in the triple jump. But Cooper's college future is on the football field.
"He played both running back and safety for us. He gained over 1,100 yards rushing. He is a tough kid and is strong for his size. Illinois said he would play field corner."
Cooper is also an outstanding student, and the service academies have shown interest. His list of schools may not impress some fans, but Duncan has no doubt Cooper can compete at the highest level.
"Some of his other schools included Appalachian State, Georgia Southern, Air Force Academy and the Naval Academy. I think he will play early at Illinois."
Duncan has enjoyed a long, productive relationship with Coach West.
"Coach West recruited a bunch of my kids when I was a head coach in South Carolina. Valdon has a great relationship with Coach West. He felt at home on his December visit."