"I know him," Cook said of Mitchell-Thornton, "but we don't talk that much. That won't really affect my decision."
Tarik (pronounced tuh-REEK) attended UT's recent Lineman Camp but as a spectator, not as a participant.
"I didn't do anything. I just watched the O-line coach and got to meet him," Cook said. "Coach (Harry) Hiestand is pretty cool. He seems like he really knows what he's doing, plus he came from the NFL."
Although he has played a little at guard, Cook said most schools are recruiting him as a center.
"I played guard a few times," he said. "Only one school is recruiting me as a guard, and that's Ole Miss."
Describing his approach as "aggressive," Cook added: "I have a great power base and hands, nice feet and a great pass set. I'm a leader on the football field as a center."
Although center is a grueling position that involves a lot of work and very little recognition, he enjoys playing there.
"Playing center you get to be a leader," he said. "You've got to have the quickest hands on the field because you've got to snap the ball and then get in position to block. You have to be a good all-around player."
Asked if he has played any defense, he replied: "Not in awhile."
Cook says he recorded 15 pancake blocks last fall, along with "a lot of key blocks that helped us win a lot of games."
Apparently so. Stephenson High outscored its opponents 429-59 en route to an 11-0 start last season before suffering a 22-21 loss to Colquitt County in Round 2 of the state playoffs.