Steven is already bigger (6'4½", 265 lbs.) than Scott when he was a senior at Cary, and thanks to the coaching he has received over the years and the guidance of his older brother, he could end up being the more talented prospect of the two.
"Steven really understands the game," says Cary head coach Ron Pendergraft. "He has a lot of what I call ‘football savvy' – and it's something you can't teach. Just like you can't teach instinct. Steven has the ability to see a play ahead, knows what he needs to do and the technique he needs to use to get there. He's got the football knowledge down. Some of the things you could spend a kid's whole high school career teaching, Steven already understands those things."
Steven has been playing left tackle and defensive end for the Cary Imps, but coach Pendergraft said he is also looking at playing him at other positions next season.
"One of the things he's got going for him is that he's very versatile," he said. "At the Division I level, he projects as an offensive lineman. Even though he's comfortable at tackle, I'm considering moving him to offensive guard because he can really move. All of my linemen have to be able to pull and I feel comfortable putting Steven anywhere we need him."
Steven is projected as a full qualifier academically and already possesses the size and skills that would turn the heads of college coaches. While Steven can be considered a "strong lean" toward NC State, coaches from several other Division I programs continue to inquire about him. Maryland, Marshall, Duke, North Carolina and Clemson are very much in the picture with State, and other schools such as Nebraska and Auburn are starting to show a little interest. None of the schools on Steven's list have offered yet, but many of them are taking a "wait-and-see" approach.
"The thing that Steven's really being smart about is that he's keeping his options open," said coach Pendergraft. "If he definitely wants to go to State, that's fine. But I told him ‘just don't shut these other schools out, because you never know.'"
Coach Pendergraft admitted that Steven still needs to spend more time in the weight room, and that he is taking it slowly this off-season because of a slight shoulder injury. But he knows that the offers will come in time, and NC State currently stands as his leading choice.
In fact, thanks to Scott, Coach Amato and his staff already know Steven very well. He attended a couple of games last year as a recruit, and he attended the Red/White game this spring with his older brother. When asked what he likes in particular about NC State, he mentioned the facilities and the coaching staff.
"The coaching staff is really friendly," he said. "They know you on a first-name basis and they make it a point to get to know you and your family really well."
Scott has indeed played a strong part in Steven's development and will surely play a part in helping him make his college decision.
"He always gives good advice," Steven said of his brother. "He helps me out tremendously in football and with the techniques that he's learned from State. The techniques he's teaching me can benefit me so much if I start using them now and I won't have to spend time learning them in college."
Steven admits that he and Scott are very close and remain the best of friends, even when they are roughhousing around at home. "It's fun, but I've got to watch out though when we're kidding around," he says. "Mom keeps yelling at me, ‘That's a $300,000 body you're playing with!' I mean, I'm the one that's going to get hurt out here!"
Steven admits that there is a certain amount of pressure to follow in his brother's steps and become a lineman at State, but he says he feels comfortable that he will make a decision that is best for him.
"It comes naturally to want to veer to that side, when everyone asks you if you're going to State and you're getting letters from the coaching staff and, of course, you know them like your family," he said. "But then you want to be your own person at the same time and do your own thing. It would be hard to play for Carolina, but going to a different school is a possibility. It would be so much easier to go to State, where I already know the routine, the campus, the coaches and the players. But then again, I could say "let's see where this other road takes me and see if I can end up at the same spot."
When asked if he ever sees himself in a similar spot where Scott is now, his reply was simply: "Every night when I lay down in bed."
There is no doubt that Steven Kooistra has the potential to be a solid lineman at the Division I college level and perhaps, someday, even the professional level. And if he continues to work hard to improve his size, his strength and his speed, there is a strong possibility that he could take the next step of that journey in Wolfpack red.