RECRUITING: Test Driving the Maxi Cooper

RECRUITING: Test Driving the Maxi Cooper

There's no denying the popularity of the Mini Cooper automobile, but it pales in comparison to the hot pursuit being given the Maxi Cooper, which has superior speed, more power and a tighter turning radius.

The Maxi Cooper is better known as Riley Cooper a 6-foot-4, 210-pound wideout/safety from Central Catholic High School in Clearwater, Fla. Like the car, Cooper is an original with mass appeal.

He was selected first team all-state in 2004 after compiling a remarkable junior campaign in which he had 32 receptions for 982 yards and 15 touchdowns. His 30.6 yards per catch average shattered the state record, while his touchdown-per-two-reception average electrified the Central Catholic offensive attack.

His achievements on defense may have been more impressive than his production on offense. Cooper amassed 128 tackles and nine interceptions at free safety. He has 15 interceptions combined the last two seasons and holds the state record for combined kickoff and punt returns. His status as a two-way star makes the versatile Cooper a high value target for the nation's top college programs.

"Riley was first team All-State at wide receiver and free safety the past two years," his father Larry Cooper told Scout.com. "He is being recruited at both wide receiver and free safety. He prefers to play wide receiver. Some colleges like him at free safety, and some like him at wide receiver."

Cooper's speed, size and athleticism enable him to excel on both sides of the ball as well as two sports. He's also a baseball standout who skipped the summer combine circuit to shine on the diamond.

"Riley runs a 4.4 forty, and he has been clocked at a 6.3 sixty," his father reports. "He runs a 10.8 in the hundred. Riley has a 38-inch vertical leap, and he isn't afraid to go up and get the ball."

"Riley has received offers to play both baseball and football from several schools," said Mr. Cooper in an April interview with Scout. "Oklahoma State, Miami, Florida State, Auburn, Alabama, and Ole Miss have all offered him. Every school across the nation is showing a lot of interest. He receives 65-70 letters a week. Everybody is hot after him. We don't have any favorites right now. We are looking at everyone."

Since that report by his father, Cooper has more than quadrupled his offers and has begun the elimination process. His list of eight favorite offers — Alabama, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, LSU, Miami, Tennessee and USC — says more about Cooper's talent than all the many stories written in praise of his skills.

"I'm just athletic I guess," Cooper humbly told Mike Bakas of Scout.com. "That helps me make all the plays that I'm able to make. I just go out there and play hard."

While Cooper, who is like a cross between former NFL stars Jason Sehorn and Dwight Clark, appears to prefer to be a wide receiver on the next level, he remains open to the idea of playing defense. Additionally, he wants to play both football and baseball in college.

"I really don't know right now," he said. "It doesn't matter either way to me. It's still up in the air. Whatever the coaches talk about, I'm OK with that."

In addition to great acceleration, some college will get a lot of mileage out of this Cooper.

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