Wanted from Coast to Coast

After reestablishing a foothold on the East Coast last year, the Wisconsin coaching staff is heading back to Maryland and New Jersey in search of talented high school athletes. In Maryland, there are few people that are more talented, or wanted, than defensive tackle Darian Cooper.

MADISON - When his recruitment finally slows down, Darian Cooper claims he is going to start narrowing his list and taking a closer look at a few select schools.

The way the process has gone, Cooper will be waiting a very long time.

"It's truly a blessing," Cooper told Badger Nation. "I can't take full responsibility of it. I have tons of great people working with me, helping me out and getting my name out there. I have to thank them and it's a blessing."

One of the fastest-rising prospects on the East Coast, Cooper continues to add to his already impressive offer list. Holding offers from Clemson, East Carolina, Illinois, Marshall, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, North Carolina State, Penn State and UCLA, Cooper picked up five more offers in the last week, as Duke, Georgia Tech, Purdue, UCF and Wisconsin put him up to 15 offers.

"I have put in the hard work," Cooper said. "I've trained and tried to better my game. People have been realizing that and rewarding me with offers."

The reward has come for Cooper (6-foot-1, 290 pounds) through hours of work in the weight room, where he has improved his measurables to 370 pounds on the bench and a vertical leap of 26 inches.

"That's probably the most important time when it comes to training," Cooper said about off-season training. "The summer is a long period and you just have to work on the little things. I've worked on my starting stance so I play with a lower pad level. It's about getting it down in my head to fire off the ball, which will make me a more productive player and help me better my team."

Coming off a season where he finished with 10 sacks for Dematha Catholic HS (Hyattsville, MD) and was ranked a three-star prospect (No.25 defensive tackle in the country by Scout.com), Cooper had been so clouded by his constant work ethic and focused on his junior football season that the start of the recruiting process has been a shock to him.

"I was just out there working because I knew that I had to be better my senior year in order to get the good offers," Cooper said. "When schools started offering, I was definitely surprised. I am a competitive guy that wants to compete against the best and the brightest stars out there."

In-state Maryland, despite being selective offering juniors, was the first school to offer Cooper, which was a surprise along with Penn State, UCLA and Wisconsin.

Assistant Coach Greg Jackson is Cooper's recruiting coach and has taken over East Coast recruiting from former UW coach Kerry Cooks, who helps UW recruit Robby Havenstein and Frank Tamakloe from Maryland last season.

"I am looking into every school including Wisconsin," Cooper said. "I talked to Coach Jackson when he came down to the school and he's a great guy. He watched me worked out and said he was real impressed with my work ethic in sprints and agility drills. They said I was explosive on my highlight type and that I am a dynamic player. It was an honor to hear them say all those things, so Wisconsin is a school I definitely will get out to."

Cooper plans to personally visit every school that has offered him, citing that no school is too hard to visit in order to see if it's a good match.

"These schools were gracious enough to give me an opportunity to come to their school, so I want to give them enough respect to go out and visit their school," Cooper said. "That's what I've dedicated this summer to, visiting schools and working hard in the weight room to bond with my teammates.

"If they see me breaking a sweat and working hard, they hopefully will work just as hard. Some days you don't want to be there (in the weight room) but it's not just me working out. I have to show my team that I am there for them 100 percent."

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