Cooper Rolls through Lions Camp

Archbishop Wood (Warminster, Pa.) class of 2015 linebacker Jake Cooper wanted to learn more about Penn State's coaching staff when he came to its Advanced Skill Camp Saturday. He considers that mission accomplished.

Jake Cooper didn't leave University Park with a verbal scholarship offer Saturday after spending the day at Penn State's Advanced Skill Camp. He did leave with plenty of advice, though.

He also left with potential, as in potential for an offer. It might just come later than expected, which is perfectly fine to the Archibishop Wood (Warminster, Pa.) class of 2015 linebacker. He's still waiting on his shoulder, too.

It was midway through his sophomore campaign that Cooper said something didn't feel right in his left shoulder. The impact from stopping ball carriers at the line of scrimmage caused more discomfort than he was used to. Indeed, it wasn't normal bumps and bruises, but rather an injury that would need time to heal.

Not interested in sitting out, the junior to-be moved up to the defensive line, often switching between tackle and end in the same game to provide whatever he could. What it didn't provide, though, was film of him playing linebacker, the position that State, Ohio State, Florida, and others are recruiting him for.

It's part of the reason that he didn't receive an offer Saturday, defensive coordinator John Butler explained to him after camp. Settled comfortably into Butler's office with Lions linebacker coach Ron Vanderlinden on hand as well, the trio talked about football, life, and the performance Cooper showed throughout the day–long camp experience. And they talked about an offer, too, the one Cooper yearns for, but is patient to receive. He called Penn State his top school Sunday, clearly showing his thoughts about the Lions haven't changed.

"I actually went down to camp to get experience with Coach Vanderlinden. I wanted to bond with him, workout with him, and let him get to know me as a player and person," Cooper explained. "First and foremost, that's why I went to camp.

"He ended up teaching me a lot of things after running through drills. He gave me pointers about coverage, and reading the offense, and dropping back and looking at coverages, too. I learned a lot, and I was happy with how the coaches coached."

A trio of Wood standouts camped Saturday, and joining Cooper was offered 2015 tackle Ryan Bates, along with classmate and running back Jarrett McClenton. Cooper added he was happy to make the trip with his teammates, bonding with them at the same time he was bonding with Penn State's staff.

He also made new acquaintances while working on the grass and turf covered fields that make up State's practice facility. He chatted briefly with offered Calvert Hall (Baltimore, Md.) class of 2016 linebacker Rahshaun Smith during a drill, one in which he, Smith, and a few other linebackers worked one-on-one with Vanderlinden.

There, Cooper said he felt he performed well with the other top defensive talent, and that feeling carried over to one-on-one and seven-on-seven competition during the afternoon session. He added he'll take the tips he learned back to Wood, and utilize them when camp begins at the end of summer, and beyond.

"We got a lot of one-on-one time [in that group] with him, and I got to the point where I felt so comfortable," Cooper explained. "I was actually joking round with him in-between drills, and in the film room, he gave me an extra critique on the film they had shot throughout the day.

"It got to a point where I felt like I knew him my whole life, and it clicked right along."

Cooper will attend Florida's ‘Friday Night Lights' camp this summer, and may also trek to Columbus to camp at Ohio State, as well. The linebacker said his interest from the Buckeyes has grown recently since attending an NFTC Camp in Columbus, and that the program has since been in contact with Wood head coach Steve Devlin, who Cooper says has interacted with the staff there previously.

That said, he has previously visited the facilities there – he stopped by after the NFTC – so he will decide in the near future whether or not to return. Other than those pair of stops, though, he says his summer schedule is clear.

He's happy about that, and was happy that State's staff was clear with him Saturday, too. From proximity to home to location to coaches and facilities, Cooper says he likes much about what the Nittany Lions have to offer. Now, he just hopes they like what he has to offer after seeing him play more linebacker, as well.

"Coach Van and Butler both said ‘to keep doing what you are doing at linebacker, and you'll have an offer,'" Cooper said. "Coach Butler said he was going to try to make it down to one of my first two games, but if not, Coach Devlin is going to send them my HUDL [film] so they can see how I perform.

"I think they were able to realize what kind of person I am, and Coach Butler talked about life, and went through some key points in the camp where he thought I did well, and ones where he thought I could have improved something. It really gave me a different perspective as to what kind of coaches, and people, they are.

"That was awesome, and I really want to thank them for that," he continued. "They didn't have to do that, but it made it a little more special for me."

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