Cook Is All About UMD, Eager For Official

It was quite a senior season for Ridge Point (Missouri City, Texas) safety Jameel Cook. The 6-foot-1, 190-pounder, who committed to Maryland June 20, made a smooth transition from outside linebacker to the defensive backfield, all the while helping his team to a 12-1 record.

It was quite a senior season for Ridge Point (Missouri City, Texas) safety Jameel Cook. The 6-foot-1, 190-pounder, who committed to Maryland June 20, made a smooth transition from outside linebacker to the defensive backfield, all the while helping his team to a 12-1 record. Ridge Point ended up going undefeated in its District (Fort Bend, District 23-5A) and fell one game short of a berth in the Class 5A Division I Region III championship game.

“Overall, it was a very good season for us, though it was a tough way to go out,” Cook said. “We played Temple in the [Class 5A] semifinals and lost on a last-second 42-yard field goal, so that was rough. But, you know, all season we said the only way we were going to get beat is if we beat ourselves, and we definitely beat ourselves that game. We did go undefeated in the district, though, and individually we all had really good years.

“Personally, I felt I did well. I forced a few fumbles, got a bunch of tackles, knocked down a few balls, caught a few passes at receiver, rushed for a few yards and had good kick return numbers too. As a Division I athlete, a lot is expected of you, and you’re going to be the focal point of [opposing teams], and I thought I performed well this year.”

Besides failing to win a state title, Cook did have one other regret about his final high school campaign. While his fellow defensive backs were racking up interceptions like nobody’s business, Cook failed to record one. Which is ironic, considering the Ridge Point product previously had plenty of picks as a near-the-line outside linebacker.

“Unfortunately I didn’t get any interceptions, but I am proud of my brothers. They helped us lead the region in picks,” Cook said. “Both my corners had a combined 11 picks, my outside linebacker had five, and my other safety had six. So I felt a little left out. I actually dropped two balls early in the year that were right to me, and looking back, man, I wish I would’ve had them now (laughs). But it’s all good; I still had a good year.”

Cook ended up recording 42 tackles, two forced fumbles and four pass defenses. He tallied 315 all-purpose yards as a running back/receiver/returner and scored one touchdown. After the season, Cook said he earned First Team All-District and All-Houston Touchdown Club honors. He is waiting to see which all-state team he made.

Not bad for a guy who had never played more than 10 yards off the line before.

“The transition [from outside linebacker to safety] went pretty well,” Cook said. “Early in the year we faced only like one really good receiver, and he had like 20 total yards, so that was good. But I really didn’t personally get tested until the playoffs, because most of the teams we went against ran the ball.

“I ended up playing in the box a lot, but in the playoffs I showed I could cover, and I held my own back there against teams that passed the ball. I thought I tackled very well; I’m a ‘for-sure' tackler. And with my speed and instincts, it allowed me to get a jump on the ball and make plays. Reading guys, reacting, turning and running [with receivers], I thought I had all that down. You watch film, you study, you practice your read-react time -- I got it down.

“The one thing I really need to work on is coming downhill to make a play. When I was an outside linebacker, I was near the line and really didn’t have to come downhill. And what I realized is that there’s different angles you have to take as a safety, and I have to keep working on taking tighter angles. That was the weakest part of my game this year.”

As for his recruitment, Cook did hear from various other programs throughout the fall, but he said he never wavered on his Maryland pledge. He mentioned how his area recruiter, Keenan McCardell, stayed in touch on a weekly basis, while he also spoke to defensive backs coach Brian Stewart on numerous occasions as well.

Then, on Dec. 8, Cook said McCardell and head coach Randy Edsall visited him, his father (former NFL fullback Jameel Cook Sr.) and his step-mother, in effect solidifying the Ridge Point safety’s status with UMD.

“With Maryland I’m all in. No surprises, nothing like that. I’m not doing anything crazy,” Cook said. “Coach McCardell and Coach Edsall came to see me, and that went really well. Coach Edsall hadn’t met my dad yet, so they were talking about expectations, what they want, and expect from me. And I told [Edsall] my goals and what I hope to accomplish there.

“I told them I hope to have an immediate impact. Basically, my mindset is if you’re good, you’re going to play. I’m going to be 18 when I get there, and the other guys will be 20, 21, so I know nothing will be given to me. I definitely have to work for playing time. But I did my research, and I know they need DBs, so hopefully I will get a chance to contribute this fall.”

As far as what his father thought of Edsall and Co., Cook said:

“My dad loved Coach Edsall; he liked how he’s down to earth and really got to the point. And with Coach McCardell, [my dad] calls him his big brother, so he’s definitely cool with him. It was a great conversation, and after talking to them, I think the future is bright for Maryland.”

Cook, who was last at Maryland June 28 for the Big Show camp, is set to take his College Park, Md., official visit Dec. 12-14. He was supposed to take his official Jan. 24 with fellow Texan and Terps pledge Mbi Tanyi (Bush/Sugar Land, Texas), but he had to move up the date since he’s taking the SATs that weekend.

“I’m definitely looking forward to getting back to Maryland and meeting some of my future teammates,” Cook said. “I’ve been talking to a bunch of guys on Twitter already like Mason Zimmerman, D.J. Moore, Ty Johnson and Mbi. And it hasn’t just been football players either. Like, I’ve talked to one of Maryland’s baseball commits, a gymnastics commit, and one volleyball girl who is like three inches taller than me (laughs). So I’m getting in touch with all these future Terps, just getting in touch with my future classmates and student-athletes. It’s going to be great.”

TerrapinTimes Top Stories