Coming all the way across the country from Miami (Fla.) Central, freshman safety Jamel Cook was arriving in a foreign land in Los Angeles. The sights, sounds and vibe are much different in the two coastal cities. But Cook still felt at home...with the help of two familiar faces.
"We've been playing Armwood every year in the state," Cook said of Miami Central. "I seen Leon when he was at Armwood and now he's here."
McQuay has taken both Cook and Young under his lanky wings and is guiding them in the right directions.
"Man, those my little bros. It's just pretty much doing the right things. Doing things right. Taking care of your business up front, so you don't have to worry about it on the backend," McQuay said recently. "Get stuff done early because when you wait that's when stuff comes back to haunt you -- you're not doing the right things, you get a bad reputation and nobody want to mess with you. Just keeping your nose clean. Stuff like that."
Even with McQuay and Young's help, the transition hasn't been without its bumps. Most notably, Cook has struggled to get back on the field after fracturing his ankle in the offseason.
"It's been tough," Young said of how Cook has handled being out. "It's been a little shaky on the edge, but he's coming along great with everybody. Everybody is starting to love him more. We just need to keep him motivated."
He's finally getting healthy. He has practiced for the last two weeks without any complications and from the looks of some of the pops he's delivered just in the 'thud' periods, Cook is ready to get on the field. He didn’t come from Miami just to idly sit by. He came to USC to compete and now that he’s healthy, he plans to do that.
He has been getting rehab on his ankle normally three times a day and says the injury has been a learning lesson. But he’s tired of learning from the sidelines.
“I'm just happy to be back. Happy to be back to compete with these guys and hopefully earn a starting spot,” Cook said. “Boy, I miss football so much. The last time I played football was our state game, so I miss football a lot. I'm just happy to be back on the field. I'm ready to prove myself.”
When he was being recruited, Cook said he was told by Clancy Pendergast that he could come compete for a starting spot and that’s what he intends to do.
Watch Jamel Cook, above, talk about getting back on the field after his injury and his relationship with Floridian teammates Pie Young and Leon McQuay III.
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