Darian Cooper has deduced that most major college football campuses are pretty similar. He's settled on another factor to determine which school he'll choose.
"It all boils down to relationships," the 2011 defensive tackle from Dematha High said. "A school is just a set of bricks. People make the school what it truly is.
"I feel like I have to choose a school where the people that are going to be my surrogate family and parents are people that I can trust and are people my mother feels comfortable with having me live with.
"The school, the guys that play on the team, they're my family. A coach told me that the decision I make isn't for the next four or five years of my life. It's for the next forty or fifty. College is a huge life choice."
Cooper, a four-star recruit according to Scout.com, took another step towards finalizing his college decision this weekend. He spent it officially visiting the University of Iowa.
"I had an amazing time out there in Iowa City," Cooper said. "The fans were amazing, the players, everyone was friendly. It was so real. You felt genuine love when you're out there."
Cooper said his three finalists - Iowa, Georgia Tech and Michigan State - are in a dead heat for his services. He also received a phone call from a Michigan coach on Sunday, according to his twitter page, and could use another official on a trip to Ann Arbor next weekend.
"I'm not rushing anything right now," Cooper said. "If it takes until signing day (Feb. 2), that's what it will be. If it happens before, I have no problem with that either."
A story by a Georgia Tech eweb site earlier this week made it sound like the Yellow Jackets led for Cooper. It seemed like the Hawkeyes had to make up ground down the stretch.
"Iowa didn't have any catching up to do," the 6-foot-1, 290-pound Cooper said. "I had never been to (the University of) Iowa. I just needed to see it.
"Of course when you get a story from a certain (team) site, they're going to be a little bias in the way that they write it. They're all even. I'm going to get back home and think about all three visits. I'm going to think about the pluses and minuses of each place.
"There are pluses and minuses for each school. I just have to figure out which one has the most pluses."
Cooper, ranked by Scout.com as the 16th best DT nationally in the ‘11 Class, visited Iowa for the second time this weekend. He attended a track meet in Des Moines in 2004.
"I remembered it was nothing but cornfields when I was out there," Cooper said. "But it was amazing this weekend. There's a lot more to Iowa City than just cornfields. It's definitely nice."
Iowa's sale pitch to Cooper was what most recruits like to hear.
"There's an opportunity to play," Cooper said. "Within the next two years, they're going to be losing six defensive linemen. They've also put a lot of defensive linemen in the NFL.
"We talked about the graduation rate. That's great. I talked to someone in the business department. In talking to her, I have a lot of opportunities to mix and match my degrees. That's something I really liked."
"Marcus was our host, so we all hung out together," Cooper said. "It's pretty cool with us all being from the same school. We just talked about what we liked and what it's like at Iowa. What's it like to play football there and what's the life like."
Cooper traveled to Iowa City with his mother, who will help with the decision.
"My mom had an amazing time," Cooper said. "She met with the coaches. I think she's actually talking to the coaches right now (on the phone at the airport)."