At 6-foot-1, 290-pounds, Cooper fits the mold of players Mark Dantonio and his defensive staff have liked to recruit for inside play. While Cooper shows extreme toughness on the field, catching him in a moment of softness as he helped his younger brother with homework over dinner left me knowing Mark Dantonio really wants this kid in the Spartans program.
With teammate Darien Harris already on board, Darian Cooper knows he will have some pressure to sign with the Green & White in early February. However, Harris has not applied the pressure many other might have.
"Darien is a great guy and he's not been putting too much pressure on me. He does walk around a lot yelling "Go State!" and trying to get me over there with him. But it's not been overbearing like him calling me all the time. If we are talking football, he sometimes tells me I should go up with him and continue to tear it up like we have in high school."
As for his official visit, Darian came away having a great time.
"The visit went great and I had a real great time. My host was Denicos Allen, he blocked a punt to help them win a game this year. While I was there, they fed me a ton and we went on a tour of the campus and facilities. They had a basketball game while we were there and got a chance to hang out with some of the players. I also had a one-on-one meeting with the coaching staff and we watched a highlight film."
When asked if anything caught his attention, Darian did not talk about weight rooms or other football facilities.
"You know what really caught my attention was how everybody from all different walks of life got along and were meshing real well. It was real nice to see guys from all over the country come together and win a Big Ten Championship."
As for the success, the Spartans have enjoyed and if it would play a role in his decision, Darian was honest.
"The success they had this season is nice, it shows they are dedicated to winning. It also shows that hard work pays off and while it is a positive, it will not be a major reason when it comes to my decision."
With offers from coast to coast, Darian has his final five knocked down.
"My final schools not in any order are Michigan State, Penn State, Michigan, Georgia Tech, and Iowa. I am trying to take official visits with each of them and have been talking with Michigan and Iowa, but the dates have not panned out with those two so I am not sure how it is going to play out."
With his close friend already on board, did making the trip together for their official visit help make him comfortable?
"I had a great time. Going up with somebody I already knew made it very comfortable, so I did not have to learn everyone's name. It also allows us to compare our visit. However, at the same time I like meeting new people and found it great to meet Edwin Baker, Denicos Allen, and William Gholston."
One the field, Darian knows there is work to be done.
"As for my game, I just want to be a better overall player in all aspects of my game. I want to get bigger, stronger, faster, and quicker, while becoming more of a student of the game."
While he did not make a game in Spartan Stadium, Darian did get a chance to see the Spartans up close.
"I went to the Penn State game. I like Michigan State's style of play, and talking with Coach (Ted) Gill, he was telling me where I would fit in, and Coach Narduzzi talked about where they would place me in the defense and how I would play in their schemes. I like the idea of the straight gap defense, coming off the ball fast while creating havoc on the field. I enjoy playing football like that."
One thing that surprised Darian during his visit was the visible expressions of players and coaches being a family.
"I have not really met too many coaches' wives and family, so that was fun to do at Michigan State. Getting a chance to see the coaches with their little daughters running around you could see they have a real strong family base. It was nice to see coaches, sons and daughters, who know the players by their first names and everyone being all hugged up. You could see it was genuine care for the players and Coach Dantonio is not just a football coach, he's a person willing to share his personal life with these players and make them part of his personal life."
As for when Darian will make his college decision, he still feels it will be a few weeks.
"I feel it will come after I take my official visits. I am not sure right now because I was not able to make too many visits during the season. I would love to take all five and give each school a chance. I know it would be hard to pick a school I have not visited because visits give you a chance to get a day in the life at a school to see if you can get acclimated to moving out of town and seeing if the people's personality meshes with your personality.
"Talking on the phone is nice. However, I feel you have to be able to sit down and look people in the eye and see what they are really all about or it does not really mean that much."
One thing we learned during our conversation was how impressed Darian Cooper was with his Michigan State official visit. Now only time will tell if the Spartans can get Cooper in the fold on signing day.