Jon Cooper, an offensive and defensive lineman from Fort Collins (Colo.) High School, visited Iowa, Missouri, Illinois and Kansas State over spring break last year. He has made other trips to Missouri, Wyoming and nearby Colorado State. And this summer he has visited Iowa State, Iowa, Nebraska, Oklahoma State and Wisconsin. Collins has two more summer unofficial visits planned—to USC and California—and then he expects to narrow the field and get down to making his decision.
He is still considering all of the schools that have offered him a scholarship—Nebraska, Wisconsin, Iowa, Iowa State, Oklahoma State, Wyoming, Colorado State, Missouri and California—plus USC and Kansas State.
"I have some thoughts of who I like a little better but I won't really know for sure for a while," Cooper said.
Cooper's most recent visit was a two-day trip to Wisconsin. He spent all day Thursday in Madison and flew back to Colorado Friday afternoon.
"I was really impressed with Madison," Cooper said. "It's just a great town. It's really nice. It was better than I expected. I wasn't expecting anything bad, but it just wowed me a little bit.
"I was just expecting kind of what I'd seen and I was like, ‘whoa,' cause Madison's the biggest town I've seen out of all those schools so far. It was nice. And what they're doing to Camp Randall is amazing. The biggest scoreboard in the nation I guess. Coach (Barry) Alvarez has been there forever and he's the A.D. as well so he's going to be there for a long time. Having that coach security that he's going to be there the whole time I'm there is really secure and it's nice to know that if I was to go there."
Cooper already knew fellow Fort Collins native Joe Monty, a sophomore defensive end at Wisconsin, and spent some time with Monty discussing the Badgers.
"I know him real well," Cooper said. "Tim Monty, his dad, was the head football coach (at Fort Collins) until my sophomore year."
Cooper just missed playing with Monty, who was a senior when Cooper was a freshman.
"We have three-year high schools," Cooper explained. "Our freshman year is in the junior high."
Cooper said that Wisconsin offensive coordinator Brian White showed him around campus and the city of Madison for six hours on Thursday. He also met head coach Barry Alvarez, offensive line coach Jim Huber and tight ends coach Rob Ianello, the Badgers' recruiting coordinator.
"And just kind of shake hands with some of the players, watch them work out, watch them run a little bit. All that kind of stuff. It was everything I needed to see and more," Cooper said.
The four-star, 6-foot-3, 273-pound lineman was also impressed with his other summer visits.
"Iowa State I really liked because the coaches spent a lot of personal time with me and I got to get to know them on a personal level," Cooper said. "That was really good…And they have really nice facilities. Their weight room is just an all-football weight room, which is really nice."
Cooper attended football camps at Iowa State and Iowa.
"Iowa State was a four-day camp, but I was just coming from a team camp so I spent two days there," he said. "That was cool cause it was better competition than my team camp. Got to do some one-on-ones and talk to the coaches.
"Iowa was just a one-day senior camp. It was more of a, kind of, recruiting camp than it was instructional. I would have liked to have more instruction from (offensive line coach Reese Morgan) but they spent a little bit of time with me, which was nice.
"Iowa's coaches, they produce offensive linemen a lot, like (Robert) Gallery last year and a couple other Outland Trophy winners Coach Morgan's produced. I didn't get to spend as much time there so I'm not really sure but I like Iowa City as a town."
Cooper was enamored with Nebraska, which he visited on the way home from Iowa.
"Nebraska was real impressive just the way they treated me and everything it was real nice," he said. "I like (offensive line coach Drew Wagner) and their facilities are second to none. They are just amazing. They have everything they need and they are building brand new stuff too.
"They already have the Cook Pavilion, which is their indoor (field), which is nice, but they are building a brand new one."
Cooper was impressed with Nebraska's tradition.
"Their spring game had 61,000 people," he said. "That's amazing.
"I didn't go (to the spring game) but I heard about it because I knew some people that went. Just the tradition at Nebraska is amazing."
"Oklahoma State was a little while after," Cooper continued. "That was nice. Their coaches are real cool and their facilities are nice too. Stillwater's like a nice little Midwestern college town, which is really cool also. Les Miles is a great coach and they're on the rise for sure."
Cooper said that relationships will be crucial in his eventual college decision.
"All of them have great academics and great football programs—it's going to be the people," Cooper said. "How the coaches interact with the players and the players interact with each other. All that kind of stuff. Because if I don't fit in with the people there it would be a miserable four or five years."
With that in mind it is clear Cooper has found people he likes at each of his visit so far this summer. He already has a connection at USC as well, after becoming friends with star incoming freshman Jeff Byers, whose younger brother will be a sophomore at Fort Collins this fall.
Cooper also has plenty of connections at Missouri, where his father played college football.
"Missouri is real nice," Cooper said. "They have really nice facilities too. I've been there, been to Columbia a couple times. My dad, he knows it, so I kind of got to see the highlights of it, which might have made it look better than other places because I didn't really know where to go."
Kansas State's interest in Cooper has ebbed at times but the Wildcats keep in close contact.
"They wanted me to come to their camp at the beginning of the summer but I had team camp two days after that and the SAT the day after that," Cooper said. "It just didn't fit into my schedule.
"I keep good tabs with Coach (Greg) Peterson, the recruiting coach," Cooper added. "He tells me to call him once in a while and he sends me e-mails and letters and everything. We keep in contact."
Cooper will finish unofficial visits, narrow field
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