Though he's only a sophomore, Jake Cooper
knows quite a bit about the recruiting process. Having a sister and former teammate go through it is making his voyage through the hectic world of college recruiting all the easier to initially navigate.
He also knows that he likes Penn State, and thus far, the level of attention showed by its staff would indicate a mutual interest. The Archbishop Wood (Warminster, Pa.) 6-foot-2, 230-pound inside linebacker visited University Park for the Blue-White Game April 20, and he'll return to camp this summer, too.
Unlike some recruits, though, Cooper doesn't need an offer to gain initial interest in the in-state program. He already has it.
“Basically, everything that could have possibly showed me what Penn State was all-about, happened. I absolutely love everything,” Cooper said of his visit. “The atmosphere was number one. Actually, when you walk onto the field and see all the fans and everyone there, you get a feel of what Penn State is all about. For them to get that many people at a spring game… I can only imagine what it would be like on a sunny day for an actual game.”
The Class of 2015 prospect spent time before the game chatting with his recruiting coach and Lion defensive coordinator John Butler, who informed him he will be passing through Wood during the spring evaluation period. He also made small talk with linebackers coach Ron Vanderlinden and toured campus in his father's car. The tour, he said, made him feel as if the university could be a future landing point.
The trip marked his second of the month, as Cooper had previously taken an unofficial visit for a spring practice in early April. He spent more time then talking with current players then he did on the structured trip to the spring finale, and it was then that he was able to gain more of an understanding for Penn State.
“When I was on my [first] unofficial, I talked to [cornerback/safety] Arian Amos for a bit, and a couple of the kickers and punters,” Cooper explained. “When I came for the scrimmage, I talked to [Class of 2013 signee] Christian Hackenberg, and he's a good guy.
“Amos approached me, and he was very welcoming and introduced me to a bunch of players. It opened my eyes to how friendly the team is, and everything like that.”
The linebacker has yet to pick up his first offer, but says at this point he is just enjoying the once-in-a-lifetime experience. He knows more of what to expect on an unofficial visit now, though learning through the recruitment of sister Dempsey -- she will attend the University of Rhode Island for basketball this fall -- and former teammate and current Florida tight end Colin Thompson gave him a bit of a head start.
The latter gave him advice that he keeps with him on every trip he goes on, and he also uses it to outline the profile of every school that contacts him. A tried and true method, Cooper says it expands on his sister's advice of enveloping the process and getting a feel for everything.
“He told me to lay out, not necessarily a goal sheet, but five main things that you want to see,” Cooper explained. “If a college touches all five things, it's in consideration of where you'd actually want to go.
“The first two things are the coaches; first how they treat and interact with the players, and how the players interact with them. The third is the campus, and then everything with academics. And then the last one is whatever else might come up.”
Cooper will camp at Penn State during its Advanced Skill Camp June 8, and he'll also attend camps at Florida and Temple this summer. Wisconsin, Nebraska, Stanford, Michigan and Miami may receive unofficial visits this summer, as well.
But until he returns, he'll keep in close contact with the State staff, something he feels very comfortable doing with any of the coaches he may call on any particular day.
“I talk to Coach Butler the most, but Coach Vanderlinden is in very close contact, too,” he said. “I feel very comfortable with Coach Butler since I talked to him when I was going into my sophomore year.
“He's a very down-to-earth guy, and as soon as our conversation started, I knew he was a great guy. We talk about life, football and everything. Every time we talk, we talk about football, but also about outside life, as well.”
Class of 2015 linebacker Jake Cooper has been a frequent visitor to Penn State of late. He'll be back at University Park for camp in June.
Class of 2015 linebacker Jake Cooper has been a frequent visitor to Penn State of late.