Tar Heel State OL talks the latest

John T. Hoggard (Wilmington, NC) standout offensive lineman Jonathan Cooper is considered by many to be one of the top o-line prospects in the Tar Heel State this recruiting year. The athletic big man recently made an unofficial visit to Columbia to take in a South Carolina home game, and he came away impressed with what the Gamecocks have to offer. Read inside for all the details.

The 6'3", 304 pound Cooper, who holds offers from South Carolina, North Carolina, N.C. State, Wake Forest, East Carolina and others, took in his first Gamecock home game two weekends ago when USC played host to Vanderbilt, and he was thoroughly impressed with Carolina's game day atmosphere.

"I went to South Carolina when they played Vanderbilt," said Cooper. "It went good. They lost, but nobody's perfect. I really liked the stadium and seeing all those people. It looked like it would be an exciting place to play."

Cooper picked up an offer from the Gamecocks over the summer, and he has since built a good relationship with his South Carolina recruiter.

"Coach (Brad) Lawing is my recruiting coach. He's a good guy. He came to my game (a few weeks ago), and I didn't think I did that great, but he was motivating me and telling me I did good. He made me feel a lot better about myself. He showed that he cares."

The athletic lineman is being recruited by many to play offensive guard, but according to Cooper, the Gamecocks like him at the center position.

"They said more than likely I'd play at center, but they'd try me at guard also. I'll play whichever I can do the best at."

Cooper is taking things slow recruiting-wise, but he did go on record naming a top three list of schools.

"In no particular order, my favorites are Wake Forest, South Carolina and (North) Carolina. None of them stand out above the rest yet."

While currently focused on his senior season, Cooper acknowledged that he's considering when the best time would be to announce a decision on his college choice.

"I don't know just yet, but I know I need to (set a timeframe for a decision). I'll make it after I take all my official visits. It may be before the Shrine Bowl."

Cooper, who has not yet set any official visits, knows what factors he'll be looking for when the time does come to make a commitment.

"I want to get a good education and play for good coaches. I'm still looking for something to make it stand out. Every school is showing me good things, but I want something that's going to make me feel at home. I don't know what it is, but hopefully when I find it I'll know it."

Cooper was recently selected to the North Carolina Shrine Bowl team, and he discussed what he's looking forward to about that experience coming up in December.

"It was an honor to be selected to the Shrine Bowl. It felt real good. Me and my kicker (Casey Barth) get to spend more time together. I just want to see how I match up with a team full of good players. I'm used to playing against one or two good players, but all these players are good. I'm looking forward to playing with and against a team full of superstars."

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