Maryland's new assistant Keenan McCardell has already done plenty of legwork in Texas, and evidently his word is hitting home with several Lone Star State recruits. Whether or not the Terps are able to haul in a couple Texas bodies remains to be seen, but they're in solid early position for guys like guard Mbi Tanyi (George Bush/Houston, Texas) and safety Jameel Cook (Ridge Point/Missouri City, Texas).
The 6-foot, 190-pound Cook, who is the son of the former NFL fullback by the same name, pulled in his Terps offer in February, right around the time he added his first two verbals from Colorado and Missouri. And while there's still a ways to go in the recruiting process, Cook has Terps on the brain.
"Oh I'm definitely taking a look at Maryland. Of the three schools that have offered, Maryland is my No. 1," said Cook, who is receiving interest from Houston, Oregon State, Nebraska, Illinois, Oklahoma and Texas. "That's the school I'm liking the most, because, see, I want to play at the same school as my brother [Ridge Point running back Remus Bulmer], and Maryland is close to offering him too. Coach [Keenan] McCardell has been talking to him and saying he likes his game, so if they offer him there's a good chance we'll go to Maryland together."
Cook said he and his stepbrother Bulmer are "like best friends" and pretty much do everything together. The two have evidently discussed playing college ball with each other since they were in middle school -- and they're set on making that happen.
"That's the main priority – to play with each other. He brings out the best in me and I bring out the best in him," Cook said. "He's the best friend I have and we push each other. So if Maryland offers him, that's our shot [to play together] right there. And if they don't, well, then we'll see what happens. We understand we may have to go our separate ways if he doesn't get any big offers, but we're hoping it happens with Maryland."
While Cook certainly values the opportunity to play with his sibling, that's not the only reason he plans to visit College Park, Md., in June or July. He said he has several aunts and uncles in and around the area, and has developed a rapport with McCardell.
"I've never been to the school, but I have family out in Maryland. I have an aunt that lives there, another aunt in Philadelphia and an aunt and uncle that just moved to northern Virginia," Cook said. "I know what it's like to be out there in the cold, and I'm OK with it. I was last out there in eighth grade to see my cousins, and it was nice. I liked the area and how things are out there.
"And me and Coach McCardell, it's a real chill relationship. See, he played with my dad in the League, and they won a Super Bowl together, so we can speak on that level. We talk like friends about all kinds of things, and we can just talk about football. I know he loves my speed, how versatile I am, and how I can play anywhere in any defensive scheme."
Cook said he'll likely visit his cousins again this summer and schedule a Maryland visit around that. He is currently running track and has been unable to see any schools this offseason, although he plans to attend Nebraska's spring game April 12 before heading to Missouri. Colorado, another prime suitor, also figures to secure a visit.
"Colorado has been recruiting me hard too. They talk to me on Facebook a lot and they want me out there," Cook said. "I'll try to get out there for a visit. They're an option for me, and I know they're interested in my brother too.
"Missouri, they're in touch and they've offered, so I'll definitely check them out. That's a good program and they play in a good conference."
The Texas safety is in no rush to make a decision, however, mentioning that he doesn't plan to commit before December. He's still in the process of collecting scholarships and seeing what options present themselves.
Cook noted that Houston should be offering this week, and Oregon State might be close behind. Nebraska has been monitoring both him and Bulmer, while Oklahoma and Texas has spoken specifically to Cook. Illinois, Cook's father's alma mater, is also in touch.
"You know, it would be kind of cool if Illinois offered and to have the chance to play at the same school as my dad," Cook said. "But my dad doesn't really push Illinois or say anything about recruiting. He informs us [Cook and Bulmer] about the process since he went through it, but when we talk it's mostly about school and just football. He pushes me and my brother hard on the field and makes us work, but he's not in our ears about recruiting."
In addition to the programs that are already involved, Cook mentioned that he'd like to hear from in-state mainstay Texas A&M. He also favors the Florida programs like Florida State, UF and Miami since that's where he's originally from, and he said he wants to visit each this summer.
Last year Cook played outside linebacker for Dulles High (Sugar Land, Texas) and recorded 80 tackles, an interception, two forced fumbles, three recoveries and ran one fumble back 65 yards for a touchdown. He also blocked a punt and took a kick back for a score on special teams, and hauled in three touchdowns as a receiver. Cook transferred to Ridge Point a short while ago.
"I scored at least once on every unit – offense, defense, special teams," Cook said. "But now I need that pick-six and also a rushing touchdown and I'm good to go. I told my coach if we're on the goal line just to let me run one in (laughs)."
Offense aside, 2014 will be a transition year for Cook defensively. He said he spent his first two years playing inside linebacker before moving to outside backer last season.
"Now since I'm moving to safety I have to work on my drops and running back. I run a 4.46 40 [yard dash] so I'm fast enough to do it, but I just have to get the little things down," Cook said. "My instincts are good, I anticipate well and I'm always in the right spot. I run well, I can play sideline-to-sideline, I'm a great tackler, and I have good ball skills. So I feel like I just have to work on some details and I'll be set to go."
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