Brandin Cooks' Blueprint for Getting Noticed by College Recruiters | STACK

Become a Better Athlete. Sign Up for our FREE Newsletter.

Brandin Cooks' Blueprint for Getting Noticed by College Recruiters

May 8, 2014

Brandin Cooks was a star of the pre-draft process. He ran the fastest 40-Yard Dash at the NFL Combine and catapulted his name into first-round consideration.

We wrote that Cooks was the most surefire prospect in the 2014 NFL Draft. Now, Robert Mays of Grantland comes through with a compelling story about Cooks and his relentless drive to achieve his dream of making it to the NFL. “The Big Promise of Brandin Cooks” reveals the ways in which Cooks positioned himself to earn a scholarship to play football at Oregon State. For high school student-athletes seeking scholarship offers, there is much to learn from Cooks about getting noticed and standing out from other recruits.

For starters, Cooks approached every correspondence with a college coach as if it were a job interview (italics from the Mays article):

The first recruiter to visit was Jody Sears, then on staff at Washington State. When Sears walked into [Lincoln High School coach Brian] Gray’s office, Cooks was ready with a three-page résumé, complete with his academic history, goals and even his personal interests. A similar package went out with his highlight DVDs, sent to nearly every major school on the West Coast. Jay Locey is now Oregon State football’s chief of staff, but in 2010, Northern California was part of his recruiting area. The letter was the first time he suspected Cooks might be different. “He talked about his goals in a humble way,” Locey says. “Here’s who I am, here’s what I want, here’s who I want to become. It was just so sincere.”

Cooks also scouted the programs he was most interested in to determine the best possible fit. When he first saw Oregon State play on television, he was intrigued by the Beavers' pro style offense and how the system could impact his future potential:

As he watched, Cooks noticed a 5-foot-7 Beaver named James Rodgers tearing up the field. Oregon State played a sophisticated offense with a sophisticated route tree, but also one that favored the fly sweep—a handoff to an in-motion wide receiver—that was a college football craze at the time. “What I liked about the pro-style offense, you’re running routes,” Cooks says. “Me, not being very big, what was going to separate me from other receivers is route-running ability."

During a September bye week, Locey was passing through Stockton on a recruiting swing when he decided to stop by Lincoln to see Brian Gray. During the visit, Gray mentioned that Cooks had been rethinking his choice and that Locey should reach out. He did, and Cooks admitted that Oregon State had caught his eye. “He actually paid attention as a 17-year-old to his fit as a football player,” [Oregon State coach Mike] Riley says. “Most kids at that age are kind of enamored with the surface stuff with recruiting. He based his decision on things of substance. He knew why he was doing it.”

Cooks received an offer from Oregon State and committed, but that was just the beginning of his journey. He was determined to make an impact on the field right away, and thus he immersed himself in the football program before he even graduated high school:

Cooks spent most weekends during his final high school semester shuttling back and forth to Corvallis. He’d sleep on Rodgers’ couch, in part to save money, but also because Rodgers had the playbook. Cooks attended morning meetings, to the bemusement of older players who couldn’t understand why someone who didn’t have to be there would be. The week of Oregon State’s spring game, which happened to fall during spring break, Cooks was constantly tangled up in [receiving coach Brent] Brennan’s feet.

"He wanted to know how we call our formations, how we call plays, what part of the play spoke specifically to him,” Brennan says. “He’s like, ‘Well, when you say this, what part of the play is that?’ He was just hanging out watching practice. But he was just really, really focused.”

Mays provides many more insights into Cooks and his meteoric rise to the top of the draft class, so kick it over to Grantland and read the complete piece. But before you do, check out the Brandin Cooks “Path to the Pros” video at the top of this post.

Zac Clark
- Zac Clark is STACK Media's Custom Content Manager. Prior to joining STACK in September 2008, he served as an editorial assistant for USA Hockey Magazine...
Zac Clark
- Zac Clark is STACK Media's Custom Content Manager. Prior to joining STACK in September 2008, he served as an editorial assistant for USA Hockey Magazine...
More Cool Stuff You'll Like

Giants RB David Wilson Says Goodbye to the NFL

The 5 Worst NFL Performances on Thanksgiving

Man Sets Record for Most Bench Presses...Under Water

7 Reasons to See

WATCH: High School Running Back From Texas Refuses to Go Down

Frank Gore Is Fighting for His Job

Improve Your Football 40 Time During the Season

WATCH: Mo'Ne Davis the Basketball Star

NBA Prospect Noah Vonleh

Sammy Watkins Talks About His First Year in the NFL

Nebraska Unveils New 'Red Rising' Alternate Football Uniforms

First Look: Notre Dame's New Football Uniforms from Under Armour

Steelers LBs Smash Weight Room After Big Victory

Introducing the Football You Can Throw 100+ Yards

WATCH: 11-Year-Old Girl QB Schools Her Opponents

How QB Ryan Tannehill Beats the Blitz

Melo Follows LeBron's Lead

Odell Beckham Jr. Can Play Kicker, Too

James Harrison's Physioball Side-to-Side Bridge

Improve Your Footwork to Improve Football Agility

7 Inspirational Athletes and Coaches Who Stand Tall

Peyton Manning

The End of Johnny Manziel, Part 2

The Secret to Tom Brady's Newfound Speed

Breaking Down Eddie Lacy's Untacklable Performance

Texas High School Team Goes 0-10, Makes Playoffs

USA's Omar Gonzalez and Graham Zusi Talk World Cup

The 5 Weirdest Drills at NFL Training Camps

Randy Moss Joins the High School Coaching Ranks

'Game of Thrones' Actor Crowned Europe's Strongest Man

The Training Behind Super Bowl XLIX

Can Kevin Durant Make Sonic Drive-In Serve Healthier Food?

Blink and You'll Miss Aroldis Chapman's Blazing 104-MPH Fastball

How Ryan Mathews Returned to Highlight Reel Status

Sumo Deadlift for Football Strength

Catching Up With NBA Prospect Marcus Smart

You Won't Believe How Little Money Olympic Rowers Earn

Predicting the Impact of DeMarco Murray's Hand Injury

U.S. Football Players Take on the World in the Kuwaiti Desert

WATCH: Fresno State Baller Drains 5 Straight Half-Court Shots

YES, REALLY: Bowling Seeks to Become Olympic Sport

The Training Formula Behind Drew Brees's 5 TD Passes

WATCH: Jadeveon Clowney's Monster Training Camp Tackle

We Followed Noah Vonleh On NBA Draft Night. Here

LeBron James Leads Cavaliers' Workout on the Beach in Brazil

How to 'Keep Your Cool' on the Football Field

CrossFit for Kids: Not What You Might Think

10 NFL Players Who Are Creating Their Own Brands

America's Tallest Basketball Player Commits to UCF

Cardale Jones Returns to Ohio State University

An Economist Claims to Have Found Point When NHL Players Peak