Yo, Tim Sullivan from mgoblog here. I had a writeup on Darian Cooper ready to go in case he committed to Michigan, and didn't want to let it go to waste. Without further ado, the creepin':
|4*, #16 DT, #165 Overall||3*, 5.7, #33 DT #6 Md.||4*, 79, #21 DT|
Following his junior season, Cooper was considered one of the top 40 returning linemen in the state of Maryland, though I don't think that can be too competitive a category. It does, however, include all years 2011-2013, as well as both tackle and defensive end.
The recruiting sites unanimously say Cooper is 6-1, with weights between 275 and 295. Since Rivals' 275 hasn't changed since spring, while the others have updated, I'd guess 285 is a good estimate of his weight. ESPN:
He is a thickly built kid who lacks ideal height, but carries nearly 300-pounds well. He is an explosive and disruptive defender. He fires out of his stance and can generate good power from his compact and thick build. He displays the ability to be able to quickly get to the shoulder of a defender and muscle his way into the backfield. He can be violent with his hands and displays the upper body strength to be able to shoot his hands and push blocker's aside. He has solid short-area lateral mobility to be able to come across the line of scrimmage and react to the ball. He can be tough when taking on a blocker and can hold his ground, but does need to work to create better separation and stay a little lower. He has a good motor and is an active kid who will work to get around the ball.
They're a bit down on him because of height, but it should be good for leverage against offensive linemen. He talks about his own game on his Scout profile:
"I’m an explosive player. I have a nose for the ball. I’m pretty strong and have good closing speed. I can get to the outside well and give it my all on every play. I play with emotion and energy.
"I want to be more of a complete player. I want to run faster and jump higher. I’m also working on staying lower and being more agile."
He says he can bench 370-pounds and has a 26-inch vertical jump.
He cites his athleticism as his strong point, and his primary area for improvement is a technique concern. This is good, because you can teach technique, but only develop athleticism to a certain degree. a 370-pound bench press also speaks to his strength, and his highlight video also claims a 440-pound squat.
From mgoblog's own TomVH:
Cooper is a tackle prospect that originally wasn't as hyped as some of the other defensive players. Lately, he has been the talk of a lot of recruiting circles for the combination of size, speed, and strength he already brings to the position.
The implication there is that he can improve those skills even further with a college weight training program, and become a special layer down the road.
In his highlight video (embedded below), Cooper sometimes lines up at defensive end - and his speed and agility look pretty good, even for that position. From the inside, he shows a good bull rush, but also the ability to knife past weak blocking attempts. Despite his strength, he doesn't seem as solid holding the point of attack against the run, and many of his tackles are of the "grab the guy as he is running past" variety, passing on the opportunity to deliver a big hit.OFFERS
As recently as February, Cooper didn't have any offers, despite lots of interest from schools. He picked up his first offer, from Maryland, in late February, along with ones from Marshall and Illinois, and serious interest from Penn State, which they followed up on by extending an offer.
His final group consisted of Iowa, Michigan State, Cavernous Gaping Hole, Michigan, and Georgia Tech.
Per the all-knowing scout profile, he finished his junior year with 10 sacks. That's not bad for an interior lineman, especially one who's surrounded by as much talent as Cooper is at DeMatha. He was named 3rd-Team All-WCAC (Washington Catholic Athletic Conference), and ESPN named him All-State Honorable Mention.
As a senior, ESPN says he was a consensus All-State selection, and Scout estimates that he had 70+ tackles and 10 sacks.
FAKE 40 TIME
I didn't find any 40 times online, so I'll give the default five FAKES out of five.
Junior year highlights from the YouTube:
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Based on the talk about Cooper (and his highlight video), I think he's probably a little underrated. If he can bulk up a bit more before his senior season and maintain (or improve) his level of production, he could shoot up the rankings quite a bit. A low four-star ranking is probably in the cards by the time all is said and done.
Cooper appears to be capable of playing both nose tackle (if he adds the necessary weight) or a big defensive end in 3-man fronts if need be. That versatility will help him see the field earlier in his career, but it probably won't come until after a redshirt year no matter what. Following that redshirt though, the sky is the limit. He'll be bulked up, and ready to contribute. With continued hard work in the weight room, Cooper could become a starter as early as his redshirt sophomore season. I really like this kid's potential, and he could be an All-Conference performer by his junior and senior years.