Graig Cooper's recruiting profile
Cooper will enter the 2005 campaign as the preseason "top back" in the state of Tennessee. He has already received scholarship offers from the likes of Tennessee, Ole Miss, and Louisville, with several more big time programs in the wings.
Height: 5' 10"
40 time: 4.5
Grades: 2.8 Core GPA / 16 ACT
From: Memphis, TN
High School: Melrose (4A)
The following information was revealed during our interview with Graig Cooper:
What makes you such a good running back? "My vision. I can see the whole field at one glance. And my speed. I have never been caught from behind, not once."
What are you working on to make yourself a more complete player? "My explosiveness and cuts. Just my footwork in general."
How long have you been starting for Melrose? "This was my first year. I was at Midwest City (OK) at Carl Albert High the year before. I left Oklahoma because they wanted me at CB, and I got a chance to compete at RB at Melrose."
What were your stats at Melrose? "On offense, I had 1, 981 rushing yards and 20 TD's (229 carries). On defense (CB), I had 1 pick and 17 tackles."
Did you garner any awards? "Yes sir, I was named Mr. Football runner-up in Class 4A. I was the Region 8(4A) Player of the Year, and I also made 1st Team All-State."
How did Melrose fare on the field? "We fell one game short. We went 14-1 and lost in the Championship game."
Which schools are currently showing you interest? "LSU, Auburn, Arkansas, Tennessee has already offered, Ole Miss has already offered, and Louisville has already offered."
Have you been on any spring visits? "I just got back in from Miami. I like Miami, and I wanted to compete against the best. I always felt if I wanted to go to Miami, I need to see how I stack up. I also went to the Adidas camp at Tennessee. I liked it a lot."
Which schools stick out right now? "Right now, I like a lot of schools. Tennessee, Miami, Georgia, LSU, there are just a bunch of schools I like. Ole Miss and Louisville. I just talk to my father about all of this, and then we talk to their coaches. I like Miami but LSU is where I might end up. I do not know, I will just pray about it."
What attracts you to Tennessee? "Their tradition. They have such a big stadium and bunches of fans. I can see myself getting pumped up coming out of that tunnel."
And Miami? "That would be a great situation for me to be in. I like the atmosphere in Florida. And I loved their campus. Carlos Armour, who use to play for Melrose, he treated us like family. He showed me a lot of love. He introduced me to Frank Gore and Roscoe Parish. You know, some guys who are going to the league. They have a lot of great RB's to come out of Miami."
What are LSU's positives? "I knew their head coach when he was at Oklahoma State. I use to go to some of their practices, and we got to know each other while we were both in Oklahoma. He runs the same style of offense as we do at Melrose. It just fits my skills. I like his coaching style too."
What about Ole Miss? "Ole Miss, they got a new head coach. He shows me a lot of interest. All of their coaches write me. Most of the schools, they just have the coach who recruits you write you. Or you might get an occasional letter from their head coach. But at Ole Miss, every coach on their staff writes me every week. They are probably showing me the most love. They feel like I can be a difference maker in their offense. They say I can be the type of player that can change their program around. They also tell me that I will grow just as much academically as I will athletically. They just make me feel special."
What are Louisville's positives? "They have changed their program a lot in the last two years. Going to the Big East and all. That is going to give them a lot of recognition."
When it comes down to finding that right school for you; what will be the factors? "I want to play as a freshman, period, and I want to run the ball. I will look at how many backs they are bringing in because I want to contribute as soon as possible. I also will look at their graduation percentage and how much they can help me grow as a player."