I suppose when a kid out of the Bayou-state or anywhere in the south, visits Nebraska for the first time, they really don't know quite what to expect. But when it's early February, they figure one thing is a given:
This is the Midwest after all, and being from Louisiana, Cooper came in expecting to need a parka, a ski mask and perhaps an extra pair gloves. Turns out it wasn't as bad as he heard. "I was expecting to be real cold, because of everything I heard, and it really isn't," Cooper said. "It doesn't get quite this cold in Shreveport, but it's not a whole lot different. I thought It was kind of nice."
With the shock of the weather now a non-factor, Cooper got down to business, visiting Nebraska to see just how he would fit in and how both the coaches and players were in regard to their interaction with each other and, of course, his interaction with them. Cooper said that many things stood out about the visit, but that was one of the most comforting. "The coaches are just amazing people and the players are, too," he said. "I have to say that I never thought I would have the opportunity to play for people like that and play with the kind of guys I met on my trip."
That was a huge criteria for Cooper, Khiry a leader of a group in Shreveport, which is part of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. He cared about personal aspects, the relationships he would develop and, of course, making sure his mom approved.
As a son, you know just by the look in your mom's eye whether or not a school gets the thumbs up. He said that it was two big ones from his mom following the trip. "She loved it. She loved the academics, which I was really surprised with in how good they were. She got to meet everyone, talk to coaches and she definitely approved," he said.
With all the good things which Cooper saw, he didn't see any reason why he should leave Lincoln the same as he went in. He and his mom made up their mind, came to the decision and while it's a couple of days before it's official, Cooper is verbally a future member of the big red.
Khiry cited all those reasons above as factors in what put Nebraska over the top, but there were a couple more, which may have been the biggest factors of all. "Coach (Ron) Brown was huge. I mean, he was just huge for both me and my mom," Cooper said of the Husker tight ends coach. "The way he carried himself, went to church with me and just how he lives his life.
"To know that I am going to have so many special people in my life here, especially him, it was a real comforting feeling for my mom and myself.
"And coach Pelini said I can play baseball."
While Cooper's 1,000+ yards receiving last year gets a lot of the attention, his .436 batting average with three home runs and 16 stolen bases is pretty impressive as well. Touted as one of the better two-sport athletes in the country, Cooper always saw baseball as something that one way or another, he was going to play at the next level, and he's glad that at Nebraska, he'll get his chance.
"Coach Pelini was really understanding of that and said that it would be fine for me to do both," Cooper said. "And I got to meet the baseball coaches and some of the players on the team. Baseball is something I just love, and people tell me that in the sport I have a real future. So, I want to just give it a try and see what happens."
Cooper said that he would be playing centerfield and usually bats lead off.
Unless you are a transplant to Louisiana from the Husker state, there's no reason to expect that you would know any more about Nebraska than you might say, Boston College. It is what it is. It is where it is and Louisiana happens to have at least one pretty noteworthy program of their own.
Of what Cooper has learned during the recruiting process and some he gleaned on his trip, he said that everything adds up to a good situation for him and a special place to be. "In Nebraska, the team is all that there is. They don't have any other teams to root for," Khiry said. "And the offense was a huge bonus, because coach Pederson spent 13 years in the NFL, and at Green Bay at least, he basically ran the exact same thing as they do in Lincoln.
"There is plenty of opportunity to play. I love what they plan to do with me and I am going to be at a place where the character of the people I am dealing with is what I wanted, but more than I thought I would get.
"I just know Nebraska will be a great place to be."