What a long, inspiring journey it‚Äôs been for newest Syracuse wide receiver commit Corey ‚ÄúCJ‚Äù Cooper. Back in March,¬†ESPN wrote a piece on Cooper¬†about his grueling childhood. When Cooper was born there were signs he would have major health complications. Doctors told his family they‚Äôve never had to use so many life support cords on an infant.
“A social worker came in and said he wasn’t responding to any noises,” Monica (Cooper‚Äôs mother) said. “They said he was going to be deaf. They said he was going to have special needs and things of that nature. That’s when it really hit us.”
Cooper and his family overcame a dramatizing scare. Now the speedy wide receiver has chosen Syracuse to play his college ball. Having received up to 20 scholarship offers, and had SEC schools like South Carolina and Tennessee knocking. But CJ chose the Orange giving SU its second wide receiver commit for the 2013 class. Syracuse has had an extraordinary turnaround over the last week, nabbing a number of sought after recruits in the days before NSD, including QB Mitch Kimble and OL Alexander Hayes. Cooper also¬†joins the other newly committed Corey, Winfield, as the lone receivers in the incoming class.
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The three-star Raleigh, N.C. native was¬†one of¬†The Fizz‚Äôs Top 5 fresh faces¬†Syracuse was targeting in recent weeks, and our most optimistic prediction only had the odds of landing Cooper around 30%. This is a huge recruiting victory for the Orange, and reinforces the type of difference George McDonald is already making. The 6‚Äô1‚Äù 190 lbs speedster ranks as the state’s 25th¬†best wide receiver with a 28-inch vertical leap. Cooper originally gave his verbal to Louisville , but de-committed last month to weigh more of his options. Cooper told The Fizz he‚Äôs thrilled for the opportunity at SU:
‚ÄúIt feels pretty good. I took my official this past weekend and I enjoyed Syracuse. I met all the players and all of the coaches. It was just a great place to be.”
Corey said the decision was very difficult. Receiving so many offers was a bit overwhelming for the Milbrook High School star. Cooper told¬†The Fizz¬†he got an assist from his old man:
‚ÄúI got help from my dad. My dad went through the same process. Before the recruitment process started, he was telling me about the whole thing and how stressful it was going to be and how it‚Äôs going to be. So it was good he told me about all of that.‚Äù
Listen to Corey Cooper‚Äôs Fizzcast here.¬†There‚Äôs a bit of a connection between Cooper‚Äôs father and Syracuse. Cooper was a late-bloomer recruit SU was deeply looking into. As it turns out, Cooper‚Äôs dad gave the Orange serious consideration way back when he was looking at scholarship offers:
‚ÄúI definitely had to give SU a look especially because of my dad. This was my dad‚Äôs second choice for college until he signed a letter of intent with UConn. But if he didn‚Äôt sign with UConn, this was his second choice. He was telling me all about it. I just wanted to take a visit and see what it was about.‚Äù
But the real significant connection Syracuse has with Cooper is his relationship with¬†newly appointed offensive coordinator McDonald. Cooper told¬†The Fizz¬†him and Coach McDonald go way back.
‚ÄúI knew Coach McDonald since he was at Miami. I knew him for a couple years. We established a great relationship when he was at Miami, at Arkansas, so I knew him for a couple of years. That was pretty awesome he got promoted to be offensive coordinator at Syracuse. I was just happy for him that he got that promotion. He‚Äôs a great guy. He just did an interview with me probably about an hour and a half ago just talking with my family and me. He‚Äôs a great guy and can‚Äôt wait to play for him.‚Äù
The relationship between Cooper and McDonald should only continue growing upward over the next few years. McDonald has a player in his system that he has great familiarity with, while Cooper has the possibility of seeing playing time more quickly. The departures of Alec Lemon and Marcus Sales doesn’t hurt either. Cooper is hopeful to get on the field right away:
‚ÄúFirst, Alec (Lemon) and Marcus (Sales) were great players. They‚Äôre forces going to the next level. I think I can see immediate playing time. All I got to do is play hard, work hard at practice, and we will see what happens.‚Äù
CJ of course plans to start building a tight bond with his¬†new head coach¬†as well:
‚ÄúCoach Shafer is a great guy. I talked to him the whole weekend on my official for hours. He‚Äôs just a really intense guy. I love him. I can‚Äôt wait to go play for him the next couple years and the whole coaching staff.‚Äù
A large portion of Cooper‚Äôs offers included ACC schools. Cooper likes the idea of heading back down to south to battle on familiar territory:
‚ÄúThat was the big factor. That was good that they moved to the ACC because I get to play my in-home universities: N.C. State, UNC, Wake Forest, Duke. I get to play those guys, so that was a great pitch.‚Äù
It all came down to the brand new staff for Cooper‚Äôs X-Factor. He just can‚Äôt wait to make his way up to campus to start training camp:
‚ÄúFirst of all, I went to go tour the university. It‚Äôs a good size campus. It‚Äôs a big campus and that‚Äôs good. The last thing was the coaches. I felt very comfortable with all the coaches there. I had a very fun-time on the official with them and the players.‚Äù
Cooper participated in the 2013 Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl January 4th with¬†Orange tight end commit Tyler Provo, so he’s already built a bit of a bond with a fellow classmate. Also on his team was¬†undecided running back Laray Smith. Perhaps Cooper’s verbal helps convince Smith to join the party? We‚Äôll have to wait and see, as National Signing Day is just 8 days away. Things are just starting to get crazy.
Posted: Brendan Glasheen