"Growing up, Alabama was my team, and really was until I came here," said Cook, in his third year as the starting FB for the Rebels. "My favorite player was Derrick Thomas. He was my guy at Alabama and when he played with the Kansasa City Chiefs."
Cook, who ended up playing his high school ball in Buford, GA, after his family moved there, said the interest in football in the state of Alabama is second only to religion, and not far behind that.
"The passion for football is unlike anything I have ever seen," he continued. "Kids would actually get in fights on playgrounds about Auburn and Alabama football. It's so much a part of the life of Alabama residents, it's incredible."
Jason said it's a special feeling to line up against the Tide, even though he has yet to play a full game against his used-to-be favorite team.
"The third play of the game my redshirt freshman year, I broke my arm against them," he recalled. "I caught a flat route and was hit by the DB. I went to catch myself and regain my balance by putting my hand on the ground, just like I have done a thousand times before, and my arm snapped in three places. I had bone coming out of my arm. It was pretty bad.
"Now I have two plates and 14 screws in my arm as a reminder of that Ole MIss-Alabama game. Last year, I was hurt and did not play a down."
Needless to say, Cook is looking forward to playing the Tide and being healthy.
"I can't wait. I think it could be my kind of game - physical. The team that wins the trenches will win the game - typical SEC football," he noted. "I'm looking forward to it."
Cook feels the Rebels had a good week of practice in preparation for the game with the Red Elephants.
"We have competed hard this week getting ready. Our team is based on competition and if you don't perform well you will not keep your job. Everyone wanted to keep their jobs this week to get a shot at Alabama," he explained. "I know this has been said a thousand times, but games like this are why you come to play football in the SEC."
Bama's defense will present the Rebels some problems.
"They show a lot of fronts and do some things we haven't seen this year. It's not difficult to figure out, but it is different from anything we have seen, so that keeps you on your toes," Cook stated. "What is comes down to is our preparation and learning to recognize what they are doing instantly. I think we have done that this week."
Jason is looking forward to both sides of the ball putting everything together in the same game.
"Last week the defense did a great job and we were kind of sporadic on offense. We need to step up and play better this week on offense and the defense needs to build off what they did against LaTech," said Cook, one of the leaders of the team. "This game will boil down to how we play. The Alabama game is always going to be a war, but I think we have shown if we play our game we can beat anyone. If we play to our potential, we should be fine."
The Rebels, according to Cook, can draw off the last two outings against Alabama too. Both were decided by one late play in the game.
"It makes us angry and want some redemption that they have beaten us on the last play of the game two years in a row," he noted. "We have to make sure that does not happen again."
For Jason Cook, he'll draw off his built-in rivalry with the team he used to pull hard for.
"The Alabama game does have special meaning for me because of my affection for them when I was a kid, but after the first big hit of the day, all of that will go out the window - it will be time to perform," he closed.
Jason Cook -
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