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.

Topics: FOOTBALL
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...

Featured Videos

Tim Tebow's NFL Off-Season Workout Tim Tebow's NFL Off-Season Workout Views: 153,019
Path to the Pros 2015: Trae Waynes Path to the Pros 2015: Trae Waynes Views: 80,502
Path to the Pros 2015: Marcus Mariota Path to the Pros 2015: Marcus Mariota Views: 1,270,518
Load More

Resources

STACK Fitness

Everything you need to be fitter than ever

STACK Conditioning

Sport-specific conditioning programs

Coaches and Trainers

Tips and advice for coaches and trainers

Magazine

Latest issues of STACK Magazine

STACK 4W

Women's sports workout, nutrition and lifestyle advice

Gamer

Gaming, entertainment and tech news

Basic Training

Military-style training for athletes

News

Find the latest news relevant to athletes

Most Popular Videos

Peyton Manning Dumbbell Bench With 80+ Pounds Peyton Manning Dumbbell Bench With 80+ Pounds
Views: 43,626,320
Drew Brees Will Not Be Denied Drew Brees Will Not Be Denied
Views: 12,170,372
Colin Kaepernick's Core Workout Colin Kaepernick's Core Workout
Views: 896,683
Robert Griffin III Pocket Presence QB Drill Robert Griffin III Pocket Presence QB Drill
Views: 6,866,256
Ohio State Football Open Field Plyo Drill Ohio State Football Open Field Plyo Drill
Views: 9,501,395

Load More
More Cool Stuff You'll Like
WATCH: Fresno State Baller Drains 5 Straight Half-Court Shots

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

Randy Moss Joins the High School Coaching Ranks

Randy Moss Joins the High School Coaching Ranks

Steelers LBs Smash Weight Room After Big Victory

Steelers LBs Smash Weight Room After Big Victory

LeBron James Leads Cavaliers' Workout on the Beach in Brazil

LeBron James Leads Cavaliers' Workout on the Beach in Brazil

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

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

USA's Omar Gonzalez and Graham Zusi Talk World Cup

USA's Omar Gonzalez and Graham Zusi Talk World Cup

An Economist Claims to Have Found Point When NHL Players Peak

An Economist Claims to Have Found Point When NHL Players Peak

WATCH: Mo'Ne Davis the Basketball Star

WATCH: Mo'Ne Davis the Basketball Star

America's Tallest Basketball Player Commits to UCF

America's Tallest Basketball Player Commits to UCF

CrossFit for Kids: Not What You Might Think

CrossFit for Kids: Not What You Might Think

Giants RB David Wilson Says Goodbye to the NFL

Giants RB David Wilson Says Goodbye to the NFL

Texas High School Team Goes 0-10, Makes Playoffs

Texas High School Team Goes 0-10, Makes Playoffs

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

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

NBA Prospect Noah Vonleh’s Predictions for 2014 Draft

NBA Prospect Noah Vonleh's Predictions for 2014 Draft

Melo Follows LeBron's Lead

Melo Follows LeBron's Lead

The End of Johnny Manziel, Part 2

The End of Johnny Manziel, Part 2

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

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

WATCH: Jadeveon Clowney's Monster Training Camp Tackle

WATCH: Jadeveon Clowney's Monster Training Camp Tackle

Cardale Jones Returns to Ohio State University

Cardale Jones Returns to Ohio State University

Game of Thrones' 'Mountain' Carries Trees for Fun

Game of Thrones' 'Mountain' Carries Trees for Fun

Frank Gore Is Fighting for His Job—Literally

Frank Gore Is Fighting for His Job--Literally

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

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

Odell Beckham Jr. Can Play Kicker, Too

Odell Beckham Jr. Can Play Kicker, Too

Peyton Manning’s New Magical Green Football?

Peyton Manning's New Magical Green Football?

Tulane Football Coach's Brutal New Punishment—Holding Hands

Tulane Football Coach's Brutal New Punishment--Holding Hands

YES, REALLY: Bowling Seeks to Become Olympic Sport

YES, REALLY: Bowling Seeks to Become Olympic Sport

Catching Up With NBA Prospect Marcus Smart

Catching Up With NBA Prospect Marcus Smart

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

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

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

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

Nebraska Unveils New 'Red Rising' Alternate Football Uniforms

Nebraska Unveils New 'Red Rising' Alternate Football Uniforms

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

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

The 5 Weirdest Drills at NFL Training Camps

The 5 Weirdest Drills at NFL Training Camps

Ohio State's Ezekiel Elliott Named Best U.S. Amateur Athlete

Ohio State's Ezekiel Elliott Named Best U.S. Amateur Athlete

YardBarker