One thing that Tennessee fans have found out quickly about their new staff: they don’t back down from challenges.
Whether it has been vigorously recruiting the nation’s No. 1 running back after signing day or prying top prospects from schools such as Alabama, Florida and LSU, these UT staffers have proven that when they go after top prospects, they do so with no reservations.
The 2010 recruiting season is still young, but the Tennessee staff has already taken on an uphill battle, and the foe is a familiar one for Tennessee fans: Illinois and Ron Zook.
Zook is known as an ace recruiter, and he got a good start to his 2010 class when he was able to persuade 4-star Proviso East safety/wide receiver Corey Cooper to stay home and commit to the illini. However, after over a year of waiting, the strength of that commitment now appears to be in some doubt:
“It’s a solid verbal, but I am still going to take visits," he said recently. "I made a decision, I just need to make sure it’s the right decision.”
There are a number of schools attempting to persuade Corey that it is not.
“There are a lot of schools contacting me," he said, "but Tennessee, Illinois, Notre Dame, Arizona and Stanford have been the most consistent.”
Cooper talked about his contact with coaches from Tennessee:
“Coach (James) Chaney and Coach O (Ed Orgeron) have been talking to me. I’m real cool with coach Chaney. I talk to him once a week and he emails me constantly, so I’m real cool with him. With Coach O, same thing. He sends me letters and emails; he seems cool.”
Cooper has never visited Tennessee, but he does know some things about the program.
“I know they play in the best conference in America, they produce good DB’s, and they have an NFL staff," he said. "That is all I really know right now.”
Cooper has nothing scheduled for this summer outside of a Nike camp in Champagne. Corey said that he will not take visits until during or even after his high school season is over. Though Cooper is still sorting out which schools he will visit officially, he is sure about one thing:
“I’m still working all that out, but I know for sure right now that I am going to Tennessee for an official visit.”
Whether or not Tennessee can make enough of an impression to sway him is still in question, but it does look like Cooper will be learning a lot more about the Vols in the future.
Some have pegged the two-way star as a WR, but Corey told me that most schools - including Tennessee - are recruiting him to play a safety spot.
Playing safety in college is also Corey’s preference. He currently checks in at 6-2 202, has been clocked at 4.45 in 40 and can bench press 315 pounds. He will make a final decision regarding his future after his official visits.