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National Signing Day 2015: Welcome to Penn State, Jake Cooper

One of the newest pieces of Linebacker U is finally, officially, a Nittany Lion.

Welcome to Black Shoe Diaries' coverage of National Signing Day 2015. We're here to make sure that you know exactly who the newest Nittany Lions are, where they come from, and what we can expect of them. Each of these reports will include their vital information, their high school statistics, highlight tape analysis, outlook for their freshmen seasons and more. We sincerely hope you enjoy getting to know the stars of tomorrow. If you've been reading along with our recruiting coverage all year, we appreciate the support and are glad you hung around with us for the ride that was the 2015 recruiting class. If you are a new reader, welcome! We're glad you're here, and we hope you stick around for 2016!

To navigate your way to other members of the 2015 recruiting class, simply head back to our draft board and click on the player of your choice.

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There are certain people who are born to be Penn Staters. They don't know how or why it happened, all they know is that they were put on this earth to attend school in Happy Valley, freeze for every school week of the year aside from the first and last ones, and be Nittany Lions. Jake Cooper, is one of those people.

Stats

Hometown: Warminster, PA

High School: Archbishop Wood

Position: Inside Linebacker

Height/Weight: 6'1"/220

247Composite Rank: ★ (0.8686)

Positional Rank: #16 Inside Linebacker, #11 Player in Pennsylvania

Commitment Date: February 24, 2014

247Sports Crystal Ball:

High School Stats

Unfortunately, MaxPreps only had a few of Jake's stats available, and they were his offensive stats. Suffice to say, Jake Cooper played middle linebacker for the team that won a Pennsylvania State Championship for the second year in a row.

Highlight Tape

Scouting Report

Everything about Jake Cooper screams, Linebacker U. He plays the position with passion. He plays it with no regrets. He runs sideline to sideline. He hits like a truck. He's the leader of his defense. Jake Cooper and Penn State are a match made in heaven. He's not the fastest guy in the world, and he's not the biggest either. However, he understands how to play football. He understands angles, and how to take the proper path to the ballcarrier. He realizes what he needs to do to get himself in position to make an impact play. He's a winner.

Whether it's cutting through the blocking pattern to reach the running back, or slicing through a hole in the line to make a play in the backfield, Cooper understand how to make the play. He's also a high school wrestler, which makes sense given his extremely balanced style of play. He knows that he can't get away with simply athleticism alone. He's fast, but not fast enough to recover after he misses the play the first time around. Instead, he keeps his head focused on what's ahead of him, and stays balanced at the point of attack. That balance and that understanding of how to time his hits, allowed him to deliver the crushing blows you see above.

When I asked Jake to tell me about his own game, he told me the following.

I believe my strengths are knowledge of the game, tackling, defeating blocks and my speed from sideline to sideline. I need to work hard on everything in the offseason, but things I will key on are my ability to break down to make plays in the open field and man to man coverage.

Immediate Outlook

Redshirt No

In a normal season, Cooper is probably someone you want to redshirt due to his longterm potential at the position. He may even still be redshirted when all is said and done. But with the depth challenges still facing the Nittany Lions, especially in the linebacking corps, it's not very difficult to envision a scenario where Cooper gets some playing time this season. Barring a completely shocking and freshman all-american type impression in preseason camp, Cooper won't be getting the starting nod anytime relatively soon. However, Penn State's linebackers are still very young, even if they do have one full extra full year of experience now. None of the starters, outside of Nyeem Wartman, are so established as to not ever take off the field. Cooper will get a chance to throw his name in with Gary Wooten, Troy Reeder, Jason Cabinda, and some of his fellow 2015 commits who could end up at linebacker, to try and earn playing time.

I'd put the chances of Cooper redshirting at about an even 50/50 right now. The staff doesn't know exactly who the starter will be at the middle linebacker position just yet. Will they move one of Bell or Wartman inside, like they did with Mike Hull? Will they give the job to 2014 recruit, Troy Reeder? There are simply too many unknowns at this point to completely count out Cooper from earning a job of some kind on the defense. And if he does escape the redshirt for his freshman season, expect to see a ton of him on special teams, as well.

Everything Else

Welcome to Penn State, Jake!