Saturday, October 8, 2011

the recruit: Anthony Cooper

Name: Anthony Cooper
Position: WR
Hometown: Virginia Beach
School: Bayside
Height: 6'0"
Weight: 177

24/7: 92; four stars; #24 WR; VA #8; US #221
ESPN: 78; three stars; #64 WR; VA #11; Atlantic #62
Rivals: 5.7; three stars; #55 WR; VA #12
Scout: two stars; #209 WR

Other offers: Tennessee, Boston College, Vanderbilt, East Carolina, Western Michigan

July was a good month for cleaning up in Hampton Roads and getting a few in the fold that we'd been waiting for during a good while.  Courtnye Wynn and Anthony Cooper were "Virginia leans" for like basically ever, and four of the five July commits were from that one special area code.

And Anthony Cooper is almost certainly the most talented of that July group.  You see the scouting service ratings up there; 9 times out of 10 you can ignore the outlier in the group if the other three are in agreement, and that goes up to 10 out of 10 when the outlier is Scout, which is notorious for not doing their homework and hasn't done it here.

"Speed and hands are his biggest asset," says Recruit 757, and ESPN agrees, liking his hands and straight-line speed and ability to get yards after the catch.  He's very productive at a top program in the Beach District; he's a do-everything receiver, an excellent defensive player, and a regular threat to take a kickoff back to the house.  In fact, he just did that again tonight.  There's little doubt in my mind that Cooper has the tools to succeed in college; perhaps right away, if given the chance.

Therein lies the slight catch.  Cooper is a very talented receiver joining a class of very talented receivers (Canaan Severin, Adrian Gamble, etc.) and coming in behind another class of very talented receivers.  What Cooper offers that the others don't is flexibility.  You won't see Severin, Gamble, or the wondertwins on defense.  Cooper is part of a group that includes Mario Nixon and Maurice Canady that play (or have played) both receiver and defensive back and could go either way in college.  He's also almost certainly the most talented of that group.

Parse ESPN's scouting report and you find phrases like "has moments where he looks like he has a hitch in his giddyup and isn't overly smooth."  The possibility exists that Cooper ends up on defense; if he does, safety is the place.  Definitely not cornerback.  I think he's probably a more natural wide receiver than safety, but if wide receiver is his career path, we'll have to be a little more patient, as there's a logjam coming at us in a year or two.  Putting Cooper at safety might well be a good way to get him on the field faster; the position will need a huge shot of athleticism.  The free safety depth chart next year is Rijo Walker starting and a dogpile of a competition for backup.  At strong safety the competition dogpile is for starter, with Anthony Harris maybe having a leg up.  I will always hate the idea of having to play a true freshman at safety, but inserting Cooper into that mix probably can't hurt.  It's not a position of otherworldly talent.

In a vacuum, or a less stacked WR depth chart, I'd be very happy about Cooper as a receiver.  But I don't think he'd be a game-changer, and if he were we'd still have to wait for him to polish his route-running and "refinement on the little things," as ESPN puts it.  On the team as it's built now, Cooper's best chance at being a contributor is to play defense and get involved in the return game.  I think he'll see the field earlier that way; possibly as a true or redshirt freshman.  As the most talented of the two-way athletes coming in next year, he has a leg up on his compeition in that regard and could be a long-term contributor like our current starters at safety.


This has been a bonus post, on account of bye week.  No game preview means let's dig for a little extra, and you get a Friday post.  (It's technically Saturday, but be quiet.)  I just have one more item of business on this week's agenda before I send you off for a weekend of pressure-free football watching:


(seriously, if you're a baseball fan and you aren't watching Justin Verlander pitch - a Commonwealth product so there's your local tie-in - you need to have your credentials renewed.)

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