Rated as one of the top offensive linemen in the state of North Carolina, Hoggard standout Jonathan Cooper was asked to move to defensive tackle during practices for this weekend's Shrine Bowl. At 6-3, 300 pounds, Cooper is a bulldozer of a lineman and while playing inside on defense is somewhat new, he's excited about the opportunity. So did the two-star prospect according to Scout.com like the news when he found out he'd be moved to defense?
"I didn't at first but I'm getting- you know I played defensive end but they put me inside," said Cooper. "So I'm excited about it and ready to learn and I'm sure if I work hard I can be pretty good at it."
Cooper added that while he's mentioned the possibility of playing defensive tackle on the next level, he'll likely stay on the offensive side of the ball.
"Some schools have mentioned me (playing defensive tackle) but they haven't really talked too much about it," said Cooper. "I've brought it up and they said maybe they'd try me out there but no one's really said too much about it."
On the recruiting front, UNC, South Carolina and Wake Forest have held the lead for Cooper for much of the recruiting year. However, he stated another team has really picked up their intensity over the last several weeks.
"NC State has made a push," he said. "The first week they sent Petercuskie (NC State speacial team's coach Jerry Petercuskie) to my school and then they sent Tom O'Brien to come see me as well. I guess I'm interested in them. There's a chance with State I guess."
After the Christmas break, Cooper will begin the process of making official visits. For now, he has two scheduled so far with a couple more in the planning stages.
"In the first or second week of January there's Carolina," he said. "Then the week after that will be NC State. And after that I don't know yet. I do still plan on visiting Wake Forest and South Carolina."
For now, Cooper says he doesn't have any favorites although he admits his recruiter from UNC has caught his eye.
"Coach Pittman from Carolina has caught my attention," said Cooper. "He calls me all the time and if he doesn't talk to me, he talks to my mom. He's just a funny guy."
Shrine Bowl Evaluation
"Jonathan Cooper has to be tired playing a full season and then coming to the Shrine Bowl playing both ways for extended periods of time. However, Cooper still shows the incredible footwork he hung his hat on since January of last year. Cooper keeps great pad level on both sides of the ball and delivers a huge pop coming into the point of contact fighting well using his hands and keeps those feet churning. Definitely one to keep an eye on in the updated rankings later this week."- Scout.com analyst Miller Safrit