Coach's Speak: Cooper Washington

SI caught up with Muleshoe head coach David Wood to talk to him about his star player -- cooper Washington -- and what kind of person the Sooners will be getting when the three-star defensive end arrives in Norman next June.

Playing defensive end at the University of Oklahoma entails that you play with good technique and discipline. You can be the best athlete on the team but if you don't play with both of those two aspects then you won't see the field wearing the crimson and cream.

Talking with Coach Wood it sounds as if Cooper Washington already knows that and add into the fact that he is a tremendous athlete and you have the makings of an all around good football player.

"He is a natural there," Coach Wood stated about Washington at defensive end. "He's played quarterback, linebacker, in the secondary but once you put him at defensive end and he started putting on weight he's been pretty much unstoppable there especially at our level."

"As far as a recruit for Oklahoma right now he is at about 225-pounds and 6-foot-4 or 6-foot-5 and he is just a force. He plays with great technique, plays down the line and doesn't over commit. He squeezes when he is supposed to. He has good speed and footwork as to not get his feet tangled up. And he is just a good football player there at the defensive end spot."

When Washington arrives in Norman coach Wood talked about the things he will need to work on to become a good football player at the University of Oklahoma.

"Probably (needs) a little bit quicker footwork," Coach Wood began. "Obviously he will have to put on a little size, at 225-230 you aren't going to be able to play defensive end there at that size. He's got the frame work to put it on. He will need to get stronger you know, he is still just a high school kid."

"Just maturing a little bit is going to help him. Probably the thing that will help him the most is foot quickness. He's got a good long stride; he anchors our sprint relay for the track team because of his stride."

One of Washington's strengths as a defensive end is the speed he can bring off the edge. He uses that same speed in track on his high school's sprint relay team.

"He runs a 4.6 forty for us. That's not real quick but once he gets his stride going in the 100 (meters) he has ran an 11.2 or 11.3 before. He is pretty fast once he gets rolling."

Oklahoma in the past and present has had a history of recruiting kids of great character. Like for instance, Sam Bradford, Gerald McCoy, and Quentin Carter who take time to make a difference in the community. With Washington, it sounds they will be getting the same type of young man.

"He is a great kid. Kids here in this small community they know who Cooper Washington is. Kids surround him when he shows up at pep rallies and he will go down and read to the elementary and they just sit around him. You know he is just one of those kinds of kids, one of those All-American boys."

Coach Wood talked about what the Sooner Nation can expect to see when Washington puts on the pads and takes the field day in and day out.

"His intensity and his love of the game," Coach Wood began. "Oklahoma only recruits certain kind of kids and he definitely fits the mold of those kids you see on TV every Saturday. He is just one of those kids where you say ‘well that's an Oklahoma kid.' He fits the mold of an Oklahoma kid, the high intensity and the work ethic. You never know when a kid gets to college what he is going to do but that is what he does around here anyway."

Playing quarterback for Muleshoe this year wasn't just a situation where the coaches said Washington is their best player so he should be quarterback, he earned the position.

"Well he played quarterback one year when he was younger but it was more by default. He is such a defensive player that we really didn't expect him to do much at the quarterback spot. We had him at wide receiver for the last two years and he has done a phenomenal job for us out there. Going into two-a-days this year we just threw him back there at quarterback because we knew he was more familiar with our offense than anyone on the team. And he kind of picked it up, just naturally picked it up."

"He knew all the signals that the previous quarterbacks would give him and he started using them and feeling comfortable with it. And low and behold he got right above the other three quarterbacks that we had. We worked in four quarterbacks, the three other quarterbacks and we hadn't even worked him in the spring. And then he just took over and felt comfortable and took over at the quarterback spot. We can put him anywhere on the football field. We could put him at defensive tackle, safety or running back but it doesn't matter because he is just a football player."

Last Friday in the second round of the 2A-D1 state playoffs Muleshoe defeated Breckenridge 14-0. The Mules will take on the Wall Hawks at Wigwam Stadium in Seminole (TX) Friday night at 7:30pm.

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