January 26, 2011

MSU continuing to battle Iowa, UM for Cooper

Highly-touted defensive tackle prospect Darian Cooper met with new Michigan defensive coordinator Greg Mattison on Tuesday night, and the Wolverines may have inched closer to getting an official visit from one of the nation's top uncommitted d-linemen.

Cooper, a three-star prospect who is listed as the No. 6 player in Maryland and the No. 11 uncommitted defensive tackle recruit in the country (No. 33 DT overall), has taken official visits to Michigan State, Georgia Tech and Iowa.

Cooper's head coach, Bill McGregor, described Cooper earlier in the week as being torn in trying to decide between those three. Other sources indicate that MSU and Iowa are the two leaders. Cooper is not indicating that there is a leader, but he acknowledged that the process is difficult.

"To be completely honest, most of my day is spent either talking to coaches in some form or manner," Cooper said. "It's my senior year in high school and I don't want to say I'm hardly in class, but a lot of the school day, I'm doing something recruiting-based. The coaches come from everywhere and I feel as though I'm always talking to coaches, always pondering and trying to figure out where I'm going to school."

Today, DeMatha High School was closed due to a snow day. But Cooper isn't able to enjoy it and take time off like a regular kid.

"It's all business, all decision-making," Cooper said.

Cooper was asked if it is difficult to commit to taking another official visit to a fourth school, Michigan, when it is already so difficult to decide between the three leaders.

"Yeah," Cooper said. "Yeah, that's one of the things (that is holding him back from visiting Michigan), and the fact that I have built relationships with the other coaching staffs and everything. At some points it looks a little unfair to talk to a school that is a late addition, but at the same time Michigan wasn't a late addition. They were actually one of the earlier schools that contacted me (when Rich Rodriguez was head coach). So I think I almost owe it to Michigan as a school to go down there and visit. And the new coaching staff, they are great people. I don't know. The direction they are taking the program is very interesting."

As for Tuesday night's visit with Mattison, Cooper said: "It well really well. He told me that Michigan needs defensive tackles, and the fact that they are taking the defense in a whole different direction now. They have a history with breeding defensive tackles, and he has a history with defensive players. He said that Michigan is going to be a defensive school. He said he has let the players and the other coaches know that, and with Coach (Brady) Hoke being the d-line coach, and him being the d-coordinator, he was just showing me his track record with defensive players, the ones that he has coaches, and it was very impressive to say the least."

This weekend is the last for official visits, prior to next Wednesday's signing day. Cooper acknowledged that he needs to decide soon, whether or not to go to Michigan for an official visit.

"I'm still thinking about it," Cooper said. "A lot of people are telling me to exercise my options and check them out, so it's a possibility."

Michigan State defensive line coach Ted Gill visited Cooper at school on Tuesday, but did not have an in-home with Cooper

"I met with him, and he talked to me about their need for defensive tackles," Cooper said. "He said he is trying to get some people to play beside (Jerel) Worthy. He said if I were to come into the school that he wants me to compete for playing time. They are not saying that anything is promised, but the chance is all I need.

"I like Coach Gill a lot. He is a strong, father-figure type of coach, a great guy. He has always been honest with me. When he told me that spots were getting slim, he was honest about it."

What does Gill say he likes about Cooper?

"He likes Darian's intensity," McGregor said. "He is intense and plays with a good motor, plays hard, plays pretty fast."

Kick It Off

  • As for Mattison, Cooper was asked if he grew up a Baltimore Ravens fan.

    "Not really, but I like their defense," Cooper said.

    Was he aware that Mattison was defensive coordinator of the Ravens this season?

    "No, not really," Cooper said. "I'm not that into football, to be honest."

  • Cooper said he believes Hoke will be his defensive line coach at Michigan if he were to choose the Wolverines, and Al Groh would be his defensive line coach at Georgia Tech if he were to choose the Yellow Jackets. Groh serves as Georgia Tech's defensive coordinator. Groh is Cooper's primary recruiter for Georgia Tech.

  • Said Cooper: "I'm not going to commit to a school unless I feel 100 percent comfortable. I'm not going to choose a school because a school is the least-horrible or something like that. I want to go to a school because I have genuine love for the school and I feel warm and welcomed by the people."


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