"I don't really think about that," Cooper said. "I just play one game at a time, give my thanks to my offensive line and believe in my coaches. All of that will hopefully give us a successful night."
Ranked the No. 20 running back on Scout.com, Cooper helped Citrus Hill High (Perris, Calif.) compile an undefeated 14-0 record last season, by recording 2,902 yards and 42 touchdowns on the ground. As a sophomore in 2007, Cooper averaged 11.8 yards per carry, and he maintained that double-digit average his junior campaign with a 10.6 mark.
A self-described "north and south" back who can make opponents miss in the middle, Cooper boasts a 4.42 forty-yard dash time and has demonstrated the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield (16 receptions, 365 yards, 3 touchdowns), as well as execute blocking assignments.
"Deontae was the state's leading rusher with a quarterback that had over 3,000 yards passing," Citrus Hill head coach Doug Dubois said. "So it's not like we are just feeding him the ball on every down. He was a big part of our playoff run, and it really showed he could put a team on his back and carry them."
Cooper is in track season at the moment, where he competes in the 100-meter, 200-meter and 4x100 relay, but also enjoys typical teenager pastimes like watching TV, playing video games and talking on the phone. Fresh Prince of Bel-Air is his favorite show, and while Cooper goes old-school for his television fix, it's all new age for his gaming entertainment.
"I'm a Madden '09 guy," he said. "I am the champion of the neighborhood at that game. I play with the Steelers -- I really like their defense."
Cooper reports a cumulative GPA of 3.5, with a 3.6 this most recent semester. Cooper plans on retaking the SAT in June and once more at the beginning of his senior year, with an initial score low by Stanford standards.
"Deontae is an outstanding student, along with just being a great natural-born leader," Coach Dubois said. "His work ethic in the weight room is amazing, and his numbers show that. He is the best all-around athlete I have ever coached, as far as being a true student-athlete on and off the field. His character is probably what separates him -- you just love being around him."
Currently at five offers, Cooper and his coach expect many more schools to tender scholarships soon to the Golden State's leading rusher. Cooper has official offers from Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, Stanford and Washington. He is also in talks with Alabama, Florida, Nebraska, UCLA and USC.
The 6-0, 185-pound Cooper emphasized that Coach Dubois has been a mentor during the recruiting process.
"I've got a great coach that is really helping me out," he said. "I go to him and he's like my second father. I'm been working hard, doing the workouts my coach tells me to do and he's like my helping hand."
Cooper told The Bootleg he is taking the entire recruiting process one stride at a time. He hasn't made any official visits, and says that his decision may wait until NLI Day in 2010.
"I haven't made any visits yet," Cooper said. "I made some unofficial visits to see UCLA's practice, because the school is about an hour away from where I live. We haven't talked about any visits at this time or planned anything out. Right now, I am just sitting down with my coaches and taking it slow."
Even though Cooper hasn't headed to The Farm to check out the scenery yet, he is collecting information through research about the University.
"I know they are high in academics and have a very nice program," he said. "I know they like to establish the run game -- it's 50-50. I am definitely looking for a school that is going to depend on the run."
Indeed, Stanford implements a pro-style offense that provides a balance of running and passing, unlike some spread offenses in college football where the mixture is 60-40 or greater in favor of passing. Cooper also said Coach Harbaugh has given him a good impression during phone conversations.
"I think he is a great coach, very laid back," Cooper stated. "But that might be a front; he might be tough in practice [laughing]. But I really like him. He is a cool guy and the coaching staff is cool up there."
Cooper mentioned that he would like to major in telecommunications, so after he retires from football, he could be a local sports anchor.
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