In this installment of The Recruiting Notebook, we meet a large, LARGE human who will hopefully develop into a staple along the OL in years to come: Pleasant Grove (AL) 3-star OT Anez Cooper.
As with all the same-day commitments, I’m gonna cheat on this part by posting the WTTU piece I just published for this part of the narrative.
#WelcomeToTheU, Anez Cooper. Miami adds 6’6" 352lb OL @mosthated_anc to 2022 recruiting class in a move that will help the offensive line in the years to come. #Canes https://t.co/ehkVrWG5Z6 pic.twitter.com/3KPifXPI70— StateOfTheU.com (@TheStateOfTheU) February 2, 2022
On the 247sports composite, Cooper is a 3-star prospect, the #149 OT nationally, #61 in the State of Alabama, and #1504 player overall in this class.
Cooper committed to Miami over interest from Auburn and Oregon from a list of 12 scholarship offers from around the country.
As a Player
The first thing you notice about Cooper is his immense physical stature. A legit 6’6” and 352lbs, #55 is hard to miss on the field. To be competitive at the highest levels of CFB, teams have to have size (and skill) along the offensive and defensive lines. Cooper brings that to the table and then some.
Even with that size, Cooper can refine his body a bit. There’s some bad weight he can shed and be a bit more lean. Not saying he needs to be 275lbs or anything, but getting down into the 330s would be a good thing for him. Cooper is comparably built to former Miami OL Navaughn Donaldson, and we saw the negative effects Donaldson carrying too much weight had in his college career. The goal with having Cooper drop a couple pounds would be to avoid a similar set of circumstances.
Cooper primarily worked at RT in HS, but also had snaps inside at RG as well. He was so much bigger than players he went up against that his technique is an area for immediate growth and development. He was just able to maul guys on the line, and that’s not a bad thing. But it’s not great if that’s all a player can do.
Cooper tends to pop up out of his stance at the snap at times. He’ll need to develop more hip flexibility and balance to play behind his pads to not have that turn into something other teams take advantage of.
For a man his size, Cooper moves surprisingly well. Pleasant Grove ran counters and powers with Cooper pulling from one side of the line to the other, and that was a scheme that proved very effective. Cooper blocking HS DL is a mismatch, but having him with momentum coming around the corner to block a HS LB or DB is truly abusive (and I mean that in the best way possible).
To this point of his development, Cooper is infinitely more comfortable and devastating as a run blocker than as a pass protector. With this great skill — you can literally see him tossing defenders into sommersaults all over his highlight tape — I personally believe a potential move inside to Guard at the college level might be in Cooper’s (and Miami’s) best interest.
Cooper played some DT in HS (common for the biggest guy on the team to moonlight on both lines). He was able to disrupt plays there, but his future is on the OL, for sure.
Sure, Cooper needs to develop moving forward, but he was 1st team All-State in Alabama this year, so there’s a reasonable framework for Miami to use here to develop the player into a rotation or starting lineman down the line.
- Physical build
- Run Blocking
- Brute strength
- Can improve hand work
- Needs to shed some bad weight
- Not exceptionally quick (can be an issue on outside vs speed rushers)
- Pass protection
Note: changed this up from just a freshman-season outlook to a career outlook for each player last year and we’re continuing that style this year as well.
Years ago, SB Nation polled college coaches on which position is hardest to recruit and develop. While most figured QB would be the answer, college coaches actually had the consensus that OL is the right answer here.
Why does that matter here? Because OL usually take time to develop into game-ready players. And with Cooper, as noted above, he’s gonna need a season or more to reshape his body and work into finding a role along the OL in college. I noted the physical comparison to Donaldson earlier, but I think following that same path and moving Cooper inside to Guard for the duration of his college career would be the best path forward.
In a perfect world, Anez Cooper redshirts in 2022, and begins to work his way up the depth chart from there. If he’s able to be a starter in year 3+ (as a RS Soph and onward) and earn honorable mention All-ACC accolades, I would consider his time here to be a smashing success. Anything above/better than that would be found money, and I’m here for that, as well.
That’s it for this installment of The Recruiting Notebook.