Tailback Has Big Year, Gets Noticed

Deontae Cooper, the 6-0, 190-pound running back from Perris (Calif.) Citrus Hill, ran for 2,953 yards last season, the most in the state of California for 2008. That got many schools to pay attention, and he's already received scholarship offers from three BCS schools in the west...

Perris (Calif.) Citrus Hill running back Deontae Cooper (6-0, 190) had a memorable junior year, leading California in rushing and winning another CIF-SS title.

Cooper is now emerging as one of the elite running back prospects in a loaded group from the Golden State for 2010.

"I have three offers right now, from Stanford, Colorado and Arizona," said Cooper. "And I think that UCLA and Washington could be offering me real soon."

While the Pac-10 schools are showing the most interest, Cooper is getting plenty of attention from schools out of the area.

"I get a lot of letters from Alabama, Michigan and Florida," said Cooper. "They're all interested. I think I'm going to wait it out and see what happens with more schools."

Cooper did admit, though, that he's got a preference for the Pac-10. "I like the Pac-10 a lot, any school in the Pac-10 I'm interested in," said Cooper. "But as far as a top five schools, I'm open minded. I'm not going to have any favorites right now, I'm taking it slow."

Playing at a relatively new school in Citrus Hill, even though it's has some great success, recruiting has only begun to pick up there. One of Cooper's teammates and good friends, Gregory Smith, became the first Citrus Hill player to sign with a BCS program, inking with Arizona State earlier this month. And the Sun Devils have Cooper's attention.

"I'm real happy for Greg," said Cooper. "I don't think it would affect my decision, but I'm going to keep that in the back of my mind."

Cooper attended a handful of games in Southern California last season, going to games at USC and UCLA. He said he'd like to have the opportunity to play in Southern California, should it happen.

"I went to USC and UCLA games and they were really cool. It would be nice to stay close to home but we'll have to see what happens," said Cooper. "I was getting recruited by Coach (David) Watson to USC, but I don't know who is recruiting me now. Coach (Wayne) Moses is recruiting me for UCLA. I'm hoping to get out to their Junior Day here in the next couple of weeks."

Cooper played a big role in the Hawks second straight CIF-SS title season, rushing for 2,953 yards, which was the best in the state of California for 2008, and finishing second in touchdowns with 47.

"It was a great year, but now I have to work harder because we lost some important players. But the only real pressure on me is that I have to really step up and be a leader. My whole offensive line is back, and we have a quarterback who's coming along so I want to win all our games again," said Cooper. "I think we'll be pretty good next year."

Academically, Cooper is in fine shape with a 3.5 GPA and scored an 1100 out of 1600 on the SAT, which he'll take again in the spring.

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