Dual-sport star Cooper Root talks KU commitment

Kansas linebacker commit Cooper Root talks about his commitment to the Jayhawks.

Kansas linebacker commit Cooper Root wasn’t able to get a January official visit in because of his Wichita-Collegiate school basketball schedule.

The weekend he was slated to be in Lawrence, his undefeated basketball team was in the championship game of a tournament. At 6-foot-3, 215 pounds Root is not only an impressive linebacker prospect, he’s the starting center on the No. 1 basketball team in 4A Div. II.

While he was playing in the tournament, those who took the official visit that weekend got to see the Jayhawks play in Allen Fieldhouse.

“It was awesome they got to go to the game,” Root said. “I was pretty jealous.”

The decision to become a Jayhawk was pretty straight-forward for Root.

“It was always one of my top schools every since I started the recruiting process early in my junior year,” he said. “When they finally came around and give me the offer, I couldn’t not accept it really.”

Most of Root’s family were Kansas State fans, but he had a ton of friends who cheered on the Jayhawks.

“When it came down to it, when I had to choose a school I liked the coaches a lot and loved the facilities,” he said. “I enjoy all the guys I’ve met, and I have a lot of friends that go there. I want to study medicine, and KU has an excellent program. All the factors just pointed there for me.”

Root played both sides of the ball in high school, and is open to doing whatever Kansas coach David Beaty needs.

“They want me as linebacker for the most part, but I’ve also talked to coach Beaty about potentially tight end,” Root said. “That would be something I’m interested in as well. I just want to get there and show them what I’ve got.

“I prefer defense. I like playing linebacker. Until my sophomore year, I enjoyed offense more. As I got older it just not as fun to block and stuff, but I love playing both sides of the ball. I’ve grown to love linebacker.”

Root thinks his football I.Q. makes a difference in his play on the field.

“What separates me from most guys is smarts on the field. I’m able to read a lot from that position,” he said. “I react quickly. I’m not the fastest linebacker in the world, but I can make up for it by taking the right angle and ripping over blocks and all that. I can break them down and make a tackle by playing disciplined. Just play sound and disciplined defense.”

He plans to get on campus early in the summer, and still wants to work on the few things before he starts to compete for playing time.  

“The biggest thing for me is gaining speed, agility and strength,” Root said. “Just looking to be quicker and more explosive to the ball.”

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