The Hurry Up: Mookie Cooper Explains New Commitment Date, Lejond Cavazos Nudging Elias Ricks and Ohio State Closer

By Taylor Lehman on July 3, 2019 at 7:02 pm
Mookie Cooper
Mookie Cooper

The Hurry Up is your nightly dose of updates from the Ohio State football recruiting trail, keeping tabs on the latest from commits and targets from around the country.

Mookie Cooper Details Commitment Plans

When the three Ohio State wide receiver commits – Julian Fleming, Gee Scott Jr. and Jaxon Smith-Njigba – made their way to Frisco for The Opening Finals this week, there was one other receiver they wanted to make contact with and potentially convince to round out the already-talented wide receiver class.

"Mookie. I'm getting Mookie (Cooper). Watch. I want him,” Fleming told Eleven Warriors on Tuesday.

For the most part, Cooper keeps to himself while on the field. He was placed on the same 7-on-7 team as commit Clark Phillips and Cody Simon, but the offenses and defenses were separated for the most part during competition. The only other Ohio State target on his offense was five-star running back Kendall Milton.

But behind the scenes, the Ohio State recruits have done some work on Cooper.

“I’ve been talking to them the whole time down here,” Cooper said Wednesday. “Even before, they’ll hit me up sometimes to let me know how much they want me. They’re a cool group. They don’t give too much pressure though. But every day we talk.”

Cooper said via Instagram Live on Tuesday as well that he is committing next week. He confirmed that information Wednesday afternoon.

“It’s soon. It’s sooner than expected,” Cooper said. “I feel it. I feel like I want to go to the school I want to go to, so I don’t see appoint in waiting. If I want to commit to a school I can commit and then help get other recruits.”

Cooper said he notified the team he plans to commit to last week but doesn’t want the information to be public. He even went as far as wearing gear from all of the colleges he’s narrowed his recruitment down to – Ohio State, Texas and Illinois. Miami is also involved, but he hasn’t been to Miami yet, so he doesn’t have clothing to wear.

He plans to make his commitment video this weekend and is still workshopping some ideas – maybe a pool scene of some sort, “since it’s hot in St. Louis.” He will drop that video at some point next week.

The Missouri wideout made an unofficial visit to Ohio State on May 18, and he left with a positive vibe and felt like the offense, even with the three other receiver commits, is one he could find a role within.

“I love the facilities. I loved all that. Coach Hartline is a really good coach,” Cooper said. “What I really took from it was when they broke down my film form high school and they showed me how they use their slots. They do some of the exact same plays I ran in high school.”

There has been a lot of talk about Cooper potentially choosing Illinois out of the schools he named, and outside of the caliber of program Illinois has in comparison to the others, the move would make sense. Champaign, Illinois is less than three hours form St. Louis, and two of his teammates just signed with Illinois in the 2019 class. With Illinois’ reach to St. Louis, it would essentially be as if Cooper chose his state school.

But, being rated No. 11 at his position in the country and the way he tore up defenses at The Opening Finals – Team Drip’s offense was stagnant after Cooper left with a minor hip flexor injury he had before going to Frisco. It’s obvious why Ohio State’s commits want him the way they do, especially since they are all different types of receivers.

Lejond Cavazos on Elias Ricks

Another prospect that Ohio State’s commits were aiming for during the week was LSU cornerback commit Elias Ricks. Ricks and Lejond Cavazos are good friends and share a relationship not only because of their talents at the cornerback position but also because they both were bound to commit for Urban Meyer’s Ohio State program.

Once Meyer departed, Cavazos decommitted and Ricks aimed his focus elsewhere. Now, with Cavazos recommitted to coming to Columbus, the cornerback is trying to reign Ricks in again.

“If Urban never left, Elias would have been committed,” Cavazos told Eleven Warriors on Wednesday. “It’s just the fact that he has to get to know the coach and restart everything over. I relate to that. Obviously, some work needs to get done on that, with the coaching staff getting to know him, even though they’ve done a great job on that. They talk to him every day. I talk to him every day. I think we’re in a really good spot.”

Ricks has set up an official visit to Ohio State scheduled for Nov. 23, and he also has an official scheduled with USC for Nov. 2. He’s hoping to get visits scheduled with LSU, Alabama and a fifth school as well, but the reason that’s significant to the Buckeyes is because he is lengthening his recruitment process. A longer recruiting process for Ricks means more of an opportunity for Ohio State to redevelop that relationship with him.

“I visited there when Urban was there,” Ricks told Eleven Warriors. “Me and Urban talked every single night. That was my guy, and when I heard he was leaving, I was hurt. If he was still there, it would’ve been a whole other story. We were ready.”

Cavazos has a similar relationship with Meyer. He still talks to the former head coach every day, he said. He was also close with former Ohio State cornerback coach Taver Johnson, who left for the Oakland Raiders. But Ohio State convinced him to reconsider the program because Cavazos was able to communicate with current players like Jeffrey Okudah and Shaun Wade to determine what the program might be like in the future.

“Knowing Jeff Hafley’s resume and I texted Jeff Okudah, Shaun Wade and all of them and was lie, ‘What do you all think about him? How is he different from Taver?’” Cavazos said. “Me and Taver were close. Meyer and I were close too. That’s my dog. But it was really cool then, and good relationships are being built.”

Cavazos is now trying to play the role the current Buckeye splayed in his recruitment and sell Ricks on Hafley and the new staff heading the program in Columbus. And he isn’t afraid of competing for a position either. Neither he nor Ricks nor Clark Phillips are.

“It could be 500 cornerbacks committed,” Ricks said. “If that’s the school for me, I don’t fear competition. I always think I’m going to be the top dog wherever I go. I’m always going to come in thinking I can beat these guys out, and those are my guys. But that’s not going to affect me.”

“If someone says someone is better than me, I want to play with him and compete against him in practice just to be sure that there’s no debate,” Cavazos said. “Elias is amazing, Clark is amazing. They’re both really good at what they do, but the fact that they’re there pushing me and I’m there pushing them, we can make ourselves better.”

Final The Opening Finals thoughts

Ohio State’s wide receiver commits went into The Opening Finals trying to prove something, and that’s exactly what they did.

Smith-Njigba was the sole standout on the offensive side of his 7-on-7 team and made nearly half the catches his team recorded. He proved that he could play all over the field and made several aggressive plays. He told Eleven Warriors that fold “shouldn’t forget” about him, and he made sure they wouldn’t. He carried that chip on his shoulder into his play.

Fleming and Scott Jr. were as expected. Scott Jr. caught 24-of-25 passes thrown to him, with his only drop coming in the corner of the end zone on a one-handed try. His routes were clean, and he found separation easily. Fleming was deadly with crossing patterns converted into yards after the catch and then on deep passes along the sideline. His 4.45- second speed was on full display, and he caught 50/50 balls. He had two touchdowns to Scott Jr.’s one in the championship game Wednesday.

Clark Phillips was as good as a cornerback can be when every team avoids his side of the field. Quarterbacks elected to throw to Clemson commit and No. 2 safety Fred Davis’ side instead of Phillips’, which made the day difficult for Davis. Phillip said get beaten when he couldn’t get inside a receiver on a slant route for a score and surrendered another touchdown when man-to-man coverage pulled him into the middle of the field and he didn’t see a stray receiver. Otherwise, he locked down an entire third of the field.

Lathan Ransom made two outstanding interceptions in 7-on-7 play, and he and Ricks locked down an entire half of the field.

There wasn’t much to be seen from Kourt Williams or Jaylan Knighton, who both had small injuries, and Sam Adams and Kendall Milton didn’t participate at all, though they were both dressed.

Five-star 2021 defensive lineman Korey Foreman won the defensive line MVP and for good reason. He was throwing around offensive linemen as if they weren’t a year older than him or the best offensive linemen in the class. He will only get better as he gets older. Ohio State defensive end Chase Young made an impression on Foreman, as Young was helping out with the defensive line drills.

The Ohio State-heavy team – known as Team Savage – won the 7-on-7 championship Wednesday, and Cavazos had something to say about it.

“That’s the first of many,” he told Eleven Warriors. “It’s just a 7-on-7, but we’re just letting people know that we win championships. We’re bringing the same energy to Ohio State, and hopefully we win all three or four years we’re there. That’s what I want.”

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