Jake Cooper committed to Penn State on Monday while visiting with Ryan Bates, Ryan Buchholz, and a few others. Jake had been favored to land at Penn State from the second he became a recruitable athlete. I'm not going to go into too much detail here though, because Jake will give you plenty of information below. So without further adieu, take it away, Jake.
How was the visit on Monday?
The visit was awesome. Being that I've visited multiple times, it just gets better and better going around and seeing everything. Me and Ryan Bates got there around 12:00, and Ryan Buchholz had already been there with Andre Robinson. As soon as we got there, all of the coaches came over to me and shook my hand, gave me hugs, all that good stuff. Then we went right to lunch, so we got to hang out with all of the coaches a bit, which was nice. I got to talk with Coach Pry the whole time. Then they took us around campus, just driving and pointing stuff out, because they had already known that Bates and I had been to campus before. Just being on campus was great, because I already had in the back of my mind that I was going to commit, so I was just enjoying things, like wow this is where I'm going to be for the next four or five years. After that we just went back to the office, watched a little film with Coach Pry, watched a little film with Coach Shoop. They picked my brain a little bit which was good. They got to see how much I know about football, and I think they were impressed. I've been prepared so well by my defensive coordinator who played in the NFL, so that's always a plus, and give you an upper hand on guys who are also coming in with you. After film I went down to the weight room, got to see the guys, got to see coach and everything like that. Then I went back up, they took me into Coach Franklin's office, and I laid the big news on him and the whole place went crazy. It was such a good experience.
I heard coaches were jumping up and down in the hallways.
Yeah, Coach Franklin ran out of his office down the hallway screaming that I committed, and everybody came up Coach Spencer gave me a chest bump, a lot of people gave me hugs, it was great.
Were you waiting for a specific moment to commit? In general, and just on that visit?
In general, I think I knew I was going to Penn State but I just wanted to be able to say that I did go out and see another school. And that school was a freaking tremendous school. I went and saw Duke and it threw me on a spin. I was pulling my hair out with that decision. I'm just happy that my dream held up, I've always wanted to go to Penn State since I was a little guy. Linebacker U, I wanted to be able to be a part of that legacy. So when it comes down to it, Penn State was just the best fit for me, it's exactly where I wanted to be. That's what held off my commitment for a little bit, I wanted to go see Duke at least. Then when I went up on Monday, I was just kind of waiting until I could sit down with all the coaches. I think they had it in the itinerary to bring me in the office with Coach Franklin, which was nice. When you first walk in, it's random if you just say "I'm committing." They brought me in the office towards the end of the day and that's when I did it.
Knowing that you're going to be a part of Linebacker U, does that intimidate you or make you want to work even harder?
That just makes you want to play the game even more. It fires me up to even be considered amongst those guys, just given the scholarship from Linebacker U is something that stands alone by itself. Coming in and looking at all the greats that came through this program, that's motivation. You've gotta play with a chip on your shoulder like, "Wow, I've gotta be considered one of the best at this school, one of the best in Linebacker U history." That's something that makes you work harder and harder.
Did the staff give you any indication on how they want to use you? Is there anything specific they want you to work on?
They said I have the skill set to play outside backer. They're bringing me in as a MIKE*, and they're saying it's the best of both worlds. If I come in and I'm big enough right away and I'm the best guy at MIKE, they're going to play me at MIKE. But there's also three other linebacker spots I can win. They said I'm so athletic, I can run and cover, and they said they wouldn't have any reservations with bumping me to the outside because of how athletic I am and how fast I can run. That's kind of a plus for me, because they're basically giving me three opportunities to get on the field. If I'm the best of those three at that position, then I'm guaranteed a spot on the field.
*For those unaware, MIKE means middle linebacker.
What is your favorite part of playing linebacker?
There's a lot of great things about the position, but I'd definitely have to go with studying the whole week, picking up tendencies of the other team, and being able to be in the game and direct everything and know exactly what's going to happen on that play because of the hard work you put in, in the film room. And then executing your keys, and just being able to pick out where a play's going, and going and making a play-that's huge. That's the best part about it. I do enjoy the impact and collision part of it, that's the best part as well. Nothing gets better than that, going and stuffing a whole.
Do you take pride in being part of Coach Franklin's Dominate the State strategy?
Of course. That's something that I've lived by my whole life. Dominate the state, being a part of Pop Warner teams and stuff like that, and traveling to other states, you've got a reputation to uphold. Just being able to be a part of Coach Franklin's whole campaign with dominating the state is something special. It's something I wanted to be a part of, even before Coach Franklin got there and brought that to Penn State. There's an interview that has me saying if we get all the Pennsylvania guys to stay in state, we're going to be a hell of a team, and we're going to be national contenders every year. So just being a part of that is something special. If you're a Pennsylvania guy, you've got to give Penn State a shot. It's just a tremendous place and you're going to be home with your home guys, and there's nothing better than that.
Are you planning on getting involved in recruiting other PA guys?
Of course. Me and Ryan are working as a team. We went after a bunch of guys, and we're splitting guys and we're going to work on a bunch of people and try to get them interested if they aren't, or see if we can push the pact with their recruitment a little bit. Bates is working on a lot of guys, he's working on Whitehead, Sterling Jenkins. I got Andre Robinson.** We also worked on Buchholz, since I already knew I was committing. We got Buchholz to come up Monday, not that he wasn't already coming up, it was totally his decision. We've just been working on a bunch of guys like John Reid and other guys. It's definitely a fun process, reaching out and meeting new people. Trying to keep people in state is what our goal is.
**This interview was conducted prior to Andre's commitment.
Any good feelings about any of them yet?
I think so. Just talking to some of them and getting a feel for what they want, and exactly what they want to do and where they want to do is something that could show up a little bit. I think we should get a couple more.
How excited and proud are you to become a Nittany Lion?
That is a very hard question, because the emotions I'm feeling inside right now are indescribable. The closest I can get to it is ecstatic. I'm ecstatic about this opportunity, and it just feels tremendous inside to be able to call myself a Nittany Lion.
I'm so excited to get up there, and it's going to be a great ride.
Please join me once again, in congratulating Jake on his commitment. He is going to be a fantastic addition to the Nittany Lions family, and looks like the next great middle linebacker for Linebacker U.
Welcome to Penn State once again, Jake, and thank you for taking the time to interview.
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