Cooper's Holiday Visit to Happy Valley

The Warminster (Pa.) Archbishop Wood LB took advantage of a day off school to meet Penn State's new staff. Get the lowdown on how it went, and the junior's upcoming schedule.

Jake Cooper had simply wanted to gain a better feel for Penn State's coaching staff when he left Philadelphia for State College Monday morning.

After a day on campus that included chats with head coach James Franklin, linebackers coach Brent Pry, a stop at the Creamery, and just about everything in-between, the three-star Warminster (Pa.) Archbishop Wood linebacker considered the trip mission accomplished as the wheels on his family's vehicle rolled back toward Philadelphia Monday night.

He was able to make the weekday trip because there was no school do to Presidents' Day.

"First and foremost, the visit was awesome," Cooper said. "I got through all the facilities, and even though I've toured them before, it was with a different coaching staff. I got a feel for them through it.

"My plan was to come and give them my word, but I couldn't pull the trigger as far as committing and things like that. I did give them my word, and that was to get out to Duke next Saturday, and then be back in Happy Valley likely either Sunday or Monday."

Cooper, who traveled with his father, Mike, began the day by meeting with Franklin, Pry and the rest of the Lions staff. The group moved on to lunch at the HUB-Robeson Center, before returning to Lasch Building for a tour and more dialogue.

The linebacker was also able to tour campus and stop for a bite of ice cream, building relationships in the interim that could pay off down the road.

"Getting a chance to sit down and potentially build a relationship with a future coach, that was big," Cooper said of Pry. "But it's not even just that, but it's getting to know him as a person and him getting to know what kind of person I am, because building a relationship is important as a player.

"I also was able to get close with Coach Franklin and [defensive coordinator Bob] Shoop."

Though the interior linebacker had known plenty about Franklin and Pry prior to his day at University Park, the chance to talk to Shoop opened his eyes to what the Lions' defensive coordinator as to offer.

"When he visited [Archbishop Wood], I knew his name, but I didn't know what he was about," Cooper said of Shoop. "I really learned that he was about the mental aspect of the game, and that he pushed his players the right way.

"He's a very intelligent guy, very laid back, and knows his stuff. Sitting down and talking to him about football gave me an opportunity to really see that."

Cooper also pointed to a chat with strength and conditioning coach Dwight Galt III as a positive, noting that because the current players bought into his program, "there is a great team chemistry."

The linebacker will trek to Duke Saturday, saying that he wanted to "be a man of my word, and be sincere about it" considering he had the visit planned before Penn State offered him on Signing Day.

"I don't want to cut them off," Cooper said. "They sat down with me and scheduled something, and I want to get out there and my dad wants me to do it as well, just to check things out.

"We're bringing the whole family, and we might as well make a nice trip out of it. When all is said and done, though, that Monday I'll be in Happy Valley."

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