The four-star tight end is still holding strong with three days remaining until National Signing Day.
The 6-foot-4, 255-pound Cooley joined a star-studded group of prospects in Oxford for the Rebels’ most-important official visit weekend of the recruiting season. He was accompanied by Carl Blakely, his grandfather and legal guardian.
“It was top of the line,” Blakely said. “Everything was first class. We really enjoyed the visit.”
Cooley was one of some 20 four-to-five-star prospects who spent the weekend seeing Ole Miss up close, but unlike the nine uncommitted blue-chippers on campus, there is no drama with Cooley. Blakely fully expects his grandson to sign with the Rebels on Wednesday.
“He’s 100 percent,” he said. “There’s no doubt in our minds on Wednesday he’ll sign.”
Cooley is ranked as the No. 3 tight end in the recruiting class of 2016 by Scout.com andn the No. 39 overall prospect. He finished his career at Laurel (Miss.) High School as the all-time leading receiver in school history. In his four-year career, he amassed over 4,800 receiving yards and 54 touchdowns.
He’ll join a tight end corps led by senior Evan Engram, the all-time Ole Miss leader in receiving yards by a tight end (1,298). He's second all-time among Ole Miss TEs with 91 catches and seven touchdowns.
Engram totaled 38 catches for 464 yards and two touchdowns.
“(Engram) has taken Octavious under his wing,” Blakely said. “He’s going to teach him all he can. He’s glad to have him in the program. It wasn’t any guarantee on what position, but he’s being recruited as a tight end. Some services have him at No. 2 or No. 3. (Ole Miss head) Coach (Hugh) Freeze said he’s seen them all, and he’s his No. 1.”
Blakely said he was most impressed with how Ole Miss stays on top of its players academically.
“They don’t give a student the opportunity to get behind,” he said. “They tutor them daily. That was very impressive.”
Ole Miss also addressed the recent Yahoo! report on NCAA findings in three sports.
“A lot of this of things about these NCAA violations, there’s no rumors as far as our present,” he said. “All that was so long ago. It’s a funny thing that these violations pop up at a time like now. But it has nothing to do with our decision-making.”
Cooley comes from an Ole Miss family, which includes Blakely’s brother, Harold, who was the second African-American pharmacist to graduate from Ole Miss.
“I’ve seen first hand the relationship they have, and when they use the word family, they mean that,” Blakely said. “I’ve seen old football players get in trouble once before, and my brother and classmates got together and helped them. I know this first hand.
“Surely I would like my grandson to be a part of this.”