Many times when college coaches search out talent, they have to evaluate players who are playing a different position in high school than what they are projected to play in college. However, if that player is really talented like Keanon Cooper then coaches will evaluate him incredibly hard because they realize if a player is just a football player he can play any position that the coaches ask him to play, and probably play it well.
Cooper has been so good at Dallas Skyline that people are talking about him in elite tones in the state of Texas, and those that have watched him up close even talk about him on the national scene. Cooper is a player who wants to be good and he will use anything he can get to give him some motivational fuel.
"I look at it like this — there are a number of great players out there and to be considered the best is the greatest compliment of them all," said Cooper. "Being called the best proves that everything that you have done in the past and everything that you have worked for has been awesome. That forces me to work harder than everybody else so that I can mature into a greater player. So any praise that I receive means a lot and gives me motivation to work harder in the future."
The state of Texas has produced too many great safeties to count. Cooper understands the history and wants to be a part of the future of great safeties to come out of the state of Texas.
"It would be a great honor to become one of the best to come out of Texas," said Cooper. "But I don't always just look at safeties because I remember Derrick Strait come out of Texas and was the best in the country at cornerback at Oklahoma. He was a great player at Oklahoma and the fact that I am even considered on his level at this point in my career keeps me humble. I am not the kind of player to get big-headed and not give my best effort. There are so many good players around me that I stay humble. I just kind of lay low. I am still just named Cooper, just like I have always been. But the fact I am good in football has helped me open up as far as getting to know people. I have people tell me all the time that they see me on Scout or on the Internet, but that just gets me thinking that I need to keep playing and I need to keep producing. It just keeps me humble knowing that people got great expectations for me."
Cooper teams with linebacker Spencer Reeves and defensive end Alfred Dupree to form the corp of a Skyline defense that should be one of the very best in the Dallas area.
"We are going to have one of the best defenses in the area," said Cooper. "We all started as sophomores. We only lose two players off of our defense from last year and they were role players, so we have all of our key players back from a defensive unit that by the end of the season last year was one of the best defenses in the area."
Playing defensive end, Cooper had a monster junior season finishing with 143 tackles, four sacks, five forced fumbles, five fumble recoveries and he scored two touchdowns. His first was on a 65-yard fumble recover and return and on the other he blocked a punt that he recovered in the end zone. Cooper broke into the starting line up his sophomore season playing close to the line of scrimmage, but with so many college coaches looking to move him to safety is Cooper sold on the idea of moving to the secondary at the next level?
"It doesn't really matter to me because at my school I am playing linebacker right now," said Cooper. "Last year I played defensive end, but at the beginning of spring I played safety before I was moved to defensive end at the start of the season. Our coaches were just trying to get all of our best players on the field, and we had a couple of sophomores come up who were good players in the secondary. We needed a linebacker really bad, so I moved to linebacker first. Then I moved to defensive end because they felt that was the position where I could get my hands on the quarterback and the running backs the most at the line of scrimmage. They felt I could free up the linebackers and Spencer Reeves for him and the others to make plays. So last year I played defensive end. I played a little bit of linebacker also. Yesterdaym I was moved to weakside linebacker again."
"When I start to play college ball definitely my best position is going to be safety," Cooper continued. "As of right now, I would not say that I have typical size for a defensive end or linebacker. I am more like a weakside linebacker that can go out and cover. With my speed, I can play safety or strong safety who can also come down and make tackles at the line of scrimmage. I would think I would feel a lot better playing strong safety."
Cooper plays football well enough that he is drawing enough scholarship offers to keep him busy.
"I have been offered by Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Oklahoma, Tulsa, Kentucky, Louisiana Tech, Kansas, Colorado, TCU, Arizona, Mississippi, Duke, Purdue, Texas Tech and Kansas State," said Cooper. "Right now I am really enjoying the recruiting process. My top four right now are probably Wisconsin, Texas Tech, Minnesota and Kansas State. Those are the four programs that I know the most about."
So what does Cooper think about Oklahoma?
"Oklahoma is a great school. So far they have great guys committed towards the 2008 recruiting class," said Cooper. "They have R.J. Washington and several other great players so far. I definitely feel that Oklahoma would be a good spot for me and I am seriously considering them. Oklahoma always has good safeties and they always seem to be losing them to the pros, so I would like to think I could go in there and help them. I was trying to get to Oklahoma's spring game, but I ran into transportation problems. So I was unable to make it.
"But Oklahoma is right up the street and this summer, if I can get my parents to go there, I will go up there and look around. If I signed with OU, an advantage for me is that it would give my parents a chance to come and see me play. I would also be able to come home every now and then to see my family instead of playing football a long way away. I am not saying that location is going to be a problem for me, but I am just saying that I could be comfortable there."
Cooper has been to the Texas Longhorns Junior Day as well as the Texas Tech spring game. He has also attended the Scout Combine where he excelled and is looking forward to taking more unofficial visits this summer and eventually official visits.
"I will probably go through the recruiting process a little bit," said Cooper. "Each college has a different thing to offer. One school is going to have something different than the other and I want to find out what that is. One school may be better in academics and they may be better working with students. Some schools have you come in and they start you off in a strong academic program and some a weak academic program. Then some schools just might not fit my personality right. So I want to look at how teams play on TV and then maybe take in a game so that I can see the campus and how I feel at that particular school. I want to see how I fit within the environment of their campus and the city where the school is located."