Ga. LB Leaves UNC with Offer

A year ago, Tyler Cooksey never envisioned he'd be courted by college coaches. After attending North Carolina's Junior Day on Saturday, the 6-foot-3, 220-pound linebacker now holds eight scholarship offers.

"I had been speaking with the linebackers coach, Coach Ron West," Cooksey said. "He told me they were going to offer me, but they just wanted me to come up and make sure all the coaches love me. All of them loved me and Coach [Larry] Fedora gave him the thumbs up and they offered me that day.

"It's cool to get an offer when you're not visiting," Cooksey said. "But it was even better getting offered when you're visiting, especially when it's in front of the head coach. It was a great experience to hear [Fedora] tell me how much he wanted me to a part of the team."

Boston College was the first school to offer Cooksey, a Norcross (Ga.) Greater Atlanta Christian product. Between the Eagles and Tar Heels, he has collected offers from – in order – Georgia Tech, Northwestern, N.C. State, Tennessee, UAB, and Central Florida.

Memorizing the order he has received each offer has been easy for Cooksey since the experience has been sudden and memorable. He elected not to play football his sophomore season and thus didn't begin receiving any interest from college recruiters until the latter part of his junior campaign.

"This [past season] was really my first season playing, so it's the first time people have been able to see my film and see what I do and what I bring to the table," Cooksey said.

UNC left a positive impression on Cooksey after Saturday's junior day experience.

"I have very high level respect for them," Cooksey said. "I really see them being one of my top picks for when I'm making my college decision."

Regardless, Cooksey doesn't have a list of favorite schools.

"Right now, I'm just kind of letting the recruiting process take care of itself," Cooksey said. "I'm just going to go along with it and see which schools come and talk to me. And then I'll start to have a grouping once it gets closer to the summer time, because I'd like to make a decision before my senior season."

Cooksey's father, Tom, played linebacker at Georgia Tech. However, he says there's no pressure from the elder Cooksey to follow in his father's footsteps.

Cooksey was invited to and attempted to attend UNC's two previous junior days. When he was unable to make those trips, he settled on Saturday's junior day.

"They had a ton of kids – they had a couple hundred kids come to the junior day," Cooksey said. "They told me they were trying to make it as personal as possible with me, like the other junior days would have been…

"I had a great time there. It was a lot of fun. I got to see all the facilities. They did a great job of structuring it with all the kids there. I'm just really glad I got to come up and see the campus and see how things go there."

In keeping with the promise of making the visit as personal as possible, Cooksey was one of only a dozen junior day attendees that met individually with Fedora.

"When I walked into the room, he had my jersey number sitting up in the room," Cooksey said. "That was pretty cool. It put a smile on my face.

"We spoke about my position that he would want me playing on the team. I would be the bandit guy, which is D-lineman/inside backer. It really seemed to fit my profile with how I play. I feel like I would be a good fit for that if I ended up going there."

Cooksey also meet with members of the academic support staff.

"I'm real big in academics, so I really enjoyed sitting down and talking with them," Cooksey said. "They were very helpful in that area and telling me what all they'd do for me and what all I'd need to do to get ready for the business school."

For much of the junior day, Cooksey was shadowed by West. However, he did spend a lot of time with several current UNC players who were on hand for the junior day activities. In particular, he hung out with Nathan Staub, who like Cooksey grew up in northeast metro Atlanta.

"I got to see the social aspect of being around them and seeing how they interact with one another," Cooksey said. "We played video games and just sat and chilled. It was kind of fun just talking to them. I was asking them why did they choose UNC and what was the final decision making process for that. It was just kind of neat to see guys that I had a lot of common traits with them. All of them were in the same shoes as I am a couple years ago. So they were very helpful with me."

The junior day activities included several tours, but Cooksey did some touring of his own after the event concluded.

"I really enjoyed going around the campus," Cooksey said. "I thought it was beautiful and it was a very clean college town. That is definitely something that I'm very interested in. It was so nice and the restaurants were great and everyone was nice."

Before leaving the area on Sunday, Cooksey visited N.C. State and took a quick drive around Duke's campus. He has also visited Boston College and Georgia Tech.

On upcoming consecutive weekends, Cooksey will visit Tennessee (March 8), Georgia Tech (March 15), and Vanderbilt (March 22). He also plans to attend Northwestern's Spring Game on April 12. He's currently in the process of scheduling a trip to Georgia.

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