The future stars of Ohio State football officially begin their college careers, as standouts from all over the country put pens to their National Letters of Intent.
Ohio State already had commitments from three of the nation’s best wide receivers in the class of 2020 even before it landed a pledge from Mookie Cooper in July, but that didn’t stop the Buckeyes from making Cooper one of their top targets on the recruiting trail over the past year.
The Cooper File
- Class: 2020
- Size: 5-foot-9, 193 pounds
- Pos: WR
- School: Pattonville (MO)
- Composite Rating: ★★★★
- Composite Rank: 15 (WR)
He’s not coming to Columbus with quite as much hype as Julian Fleming, Jaxon Smith-Njigba or Gee Scott Jr., yet Cooper has just as much potential as anyone to play a key role in a wide receiver room that is about to be loaded with top-100 recruits.
The slot receiver/H-back position is a crucial position in Ohio State’s offense, and that’s where Cooper will have a chance to compete for immediate playing time after officially signing with the Buckeyes on Wednesday.
Cooper is small for a Big Ten wide receiver at only 5-foot-9 and 193 pounds, but he plays bigger than he stands. His film demonstrates toughness as a blocker and strength to finish through contact with the ball, while he has the traits you expect to see from a potential star slot receiver: explosive speed, the shiftiness to make defenders miss in space and great hands.
In his junior season at Trinity Catholic High School in St. Louis, Cooper had 1,095 yards on just 45 offensive touches – an average of more than 24 yards per play – while also playing cornerback and returning punts to help lead the Titans to a state championship. Even though he was ruled ineligible to play his senior season after transferring to Pattonville High School, he’s still ranked as the 15th-best receiver and 82nd-best overall prospect in 247Sports’ composite rankings for the recruiting class of 2020.
Cooper becomes the fourth receiver from St. Louis to sign with the Buckeyes in the last three years, following Kamryn Babb and Cameron Brown (who has since switched to cornerback) in the class of 2018 and Jameson Williams in the class of 2019.
He is enrolling early at Ohio State in January, and while he might need to shake off some rust after not playing a single game this past season, the door will be open for Cooper to quickly climb the depth chart if he acclimates to the Buckeyes’ offense quickly.
K.J. Hill, who has played nearly all of Ohio State’s significant snaps at slot receiver this year, will be gone next season. The Buckeyes will be looking for one or two receivers to step up to take his place, and Cooper will be thrust right into that competition, whereas Fleming, Smith-Njigba and Scott all appear more likely to play on the outside of the offense.
With as much talent as the Buckeyes are bringing into their receiving room along with the talent like Chris Olave, Garrett Wilson, Jameson Williams and Jaelen Gill that they have already, competition to get on the field will be fierce, but with Hill walking out the door, Cooper will be one of the most natural fits on the entire roster to eventually play a similar role for the Buckeyes.
Considering the production that players like Hill, Parris Campbell and Curtis Samuel have had at the H-back position in recent years, Cooper should have a chance to put up big numbers of his own if he can climb to the top of the rotation during his time in Columbus.