"I've always had a great feeling about Washington State," Cooper (6-4, 200) told CF.C. "With the coaching staff up there, the ability to compete early and the offense they run, I felt very comfortable about my ability to succeed there at Washington State."
Cooper, his prep coach tells CF.C, is well ahead of the curve in his understanding of Air Raid concepts. Leach and Lehi High head coach Ed Larson have run similar schemes for a long time. Larson also made the trip to Pullman with Cooper when he unofficially visited Wazzu in April.
“He has great anticipation skills” and leads his receivers into the “open hole,“ Larson tells CF.C. “Too many quarterbacks have to see the receiver open before they throw it. And he’s able to see the opening where the ball and receiver will mesh together. I think that’s one of his greatest skills."
COOPER CHOSE Washington State over offers from ASU, Oregon State, Georgia, Tennessee, Louisville, Ole Miss, Boise State and others.
As a junior, Cooper completed 309 of 486 passes (64 percent) for 4,059 yards with 38 TDs in 12 games. He has earned an invitation to the prestigious Elite 11 Finals to be held later this summer.
The Cougs, made Lehi, Utah a priority stop during the May Evaluation Period, with assistant coaches Eric Mele and Jim Mastro on point.
And Mele and Mastro made Lehi their first stop on the recruiting trail this May. The significance of that as well as the continued close contact was not lost on Cooper.
"They were huge," said Cooper. "And Coach Mele had been there since Day One since they offered. They used all the visits that they could (this spring) in coming out to Lehi to watch me throw and talk to my coach."
Mastro and Cooper’s head coach go back more than 30 years: Larson was the QB and Mastro the running back on the San Jose City College that won the 1986 national title.
It’s also no surprise Mele was a key component in WSU's recruiting of Cooper. The Cougs’ special teams coach has been heavily involved in quarterback recruiting under Leach. He was crucial in bringing another Utah quarterback to Washington State: former walk on Luke Falk.
Cooper also said it was huge to be able to study under Leach for the next 4-5 years and that Leach’s personal involvement in his recruitment was big.
If Cooper goes on to start at WSU, he’ll be the first left-handed QB under center for the Cougs since Steve Birnbaum in the late 90’s and Brad Gossen in the early 90’s.