IN THE HUDDLE: Riley Cooper

In the state of Florida, the size of the school does not matter when you judge big time talent. Here is yet another smaller school standout who has already made an impact.

During the spring and into the summer, will bring you our IN THE HUDDLE segments with football players throughout the state of Florida.

These are similiar to the evaluations we pass on to the hundreds of colleges who visit our website, call us on the phone and correspond via e-mail.

Here is another top football player to keep an eye on this season – and beyond.

PLAYER: Riley Cooper
SCHOOL: Clearwater Central Catholic Pre-Spring Rating: 13

Since I have the chance to deal with hundreds of college coaches during a course of a high school football season, there are so many stories I share with them about an athlete that I had the opportunity to see - at one game or another.

There is only one other person I know who shared the same enthusiasm as I did for Cooper. Derek Williams of and I felt equally as impressed. We both had the pleasure of watching him as a sophomore, and both came up with the same evaluation: THIS KID WILL BE A MAJOR COLLEGE PLAYER!

Derek and I stood next to each other last summer, at a camp in Tampa, and saw the same things.

I was standing six feet from him the first time I saw him take the helmet off a receiver, and he hasn't stopped making plays since.

"Riley Cooper has been a man for two years," said one offensive coordinator who has had to play him two straight years. "He is quick, fluid and has a knack for where the ball will be."

POSITIVES: This is a football player with range, very impressive speed and a true knowledge of the game.

Last summer at the University of South Florida 7-on-7-Camp, I watched him compete, without pads, on 40 different plays. He is so quick and plays the game with his eyes focused on the receiver as well as the quarterback,

The thing you have to be impressed with the most about Cooper is his tremendous field vision. This is a football player that shocks you with his awareness on the field. He supports the run extremely well, but his pass coverage, with his height, speed and leaping ability, far exceeds any other safety prospect in this state.

I tracked three different plays when I saw him as a sophomore. On a running play, he started 15 yards back off the line of scrimmage and ended making the play on a sweep some three yards up field after a defensive end forced the play outside.

The second play was a screen play. Cooper read the action to the left side of the field, played off two blocks to not only make a hit, but jar the ball loose.

The third play, which illustrated his pass coverage, saw him come up as two receivers flooded the right side, leaving the other receiver all alone over the middle. As Cooper read the play, he allowed a seven yard reception, but made a brilliant open field tackle which prevented a first down.

NEEDS TO WORK ON: Blitz packages. The two times I saw him blitz, he failed to come close to pressuring the quarterback as he was picked off by a fullback and a tight end. He needs to read that a bit better.

IN CONCLUSION Is truly a major D1A talent, which will continue to play out in the sopring, throughout the summer and into the fall.

If you have film (VHS/DVD) or a color photo of a player and you want us to get him aboard in our INSIDE THE HUDDLE series, simply e-mail us at or forward to Florida Kids, P.O. Box 3181, Hallandale Beach, Fl. 33009.

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