Welcome to SEC Country’s daily Eye on the Tigers, a rundown of everything happening in LSU Tigers recruiting, with Sam Spiegelman. Today, we discuss Anthony Cook‘s upcoming decision. The 5-star cornerback is down to LSU, Ohio State and Texas, and maintains that he’s torn between his three finalists.
Anthony Cook torn ahead of Oct. 30 commitment date
HOUSTON — A week before his scheduled commitment date, Anthony Cook is completely torn between his three finalists.
That’s not a figure of speech. It’s a fact.
The countdown is on and in Cook’s mind, he’s analyzing LSU, Ohio State and Texas, weighing pros and cons and trying to muster a reason for settling on one school.
For now, it’s an even split among the three, but the nation’s No. 2-ranked cornerback understands a decision must be made ahead of Monday, Oct. 30.
“I honestly don’t know where I’m going. It’s crazy,” Cook told SEC Country. “I felt like around this time, I’d know, so I’m taking it day by day, praying on it and I’ll make a decision. I just know that I have no idea where I want to go right now.
“Over the past couple of weeks, people would say stuff and I’ve been receiving a lot of perspectives from people like, ‘Go here, it’s best for you,’ or, ‘If you go here, it’s a good fit,’ and stuff like that. The different perspectives have different thoughts going through my mind and I feel like the week of, I’ll come to a decision.”
Cook may not have an idea of which team he’ll choose on Oct. 30, but the schools are set in stone. It’ll be Ohio State, Texas or LSU after taking official visits to each campus over the past two months.
Each school holds an edge in a different department. Ohio State wins in terms of player development. Texas is the runaway winner in terms of home-state feel. LSU is very much in the thick of it as well because of opportunities to play early and develop at his specific position.
“I feel like they each got their different pros,” Cook explained. “If I go to Texas, it would be simply because I want to play in my state. If I go to LSU, Coach O [Ed Orgeron] showed me the depth chart and it’s looking good with Donte Jackson and Kevin Toliver leaving and Greedy Williams and Kary Vincent, and Kary’s a nickel, so it’s looking good. Then Ohio State, I feel like I can be developed best as a player.”
Asked for clarification on that final statement, Cook broke down the Buckeyes’ and Tigers’ edge.
“Ohio State could develop me best as a football player,” he said. “LSU would develop me best as a defensive back. I talked to Coach [Corey] Raymond this past weekend and saw the techniques. I’ve been watching LSU defensive backs a lot — Patrick Peterson, Tyrann Mathieu, Jamal Adams — and I see it. Facts.”
Recapping Anthony Cook’s official visit to LSU
It’s worth noting that Cook saved his official visit to Baton Rouge for last.
It’s also worth noting that his return to LSU’s campus was his second in a seven-month span that started after he included the Tigers in his top 10 and decided to attend the annual spring game.
Heading into the third and final official stop, there was definitely buzz about Texas emerging as a contender for the U.S. Army All-American cornerback. Part of the reason why was because the Longhorns played the Thursday prior to Cook’s visit, giving the coaching staff a full 48 hours to focus solely in on the state’s top-ranked prospect.
While at LSU, Cook watched first-hand as the Tigers overcame a 20-point deficit to down Auburn, then spent all of Sunday at Raymond’s house, which helped put LSU is a strong position ahead of his decision.
“It was like the Texas visit. It felt like home,” Cook said. “I was comfortable there. I talked to Coach O, all of the coaches, and they showed a lot of love. We went to Coach Raymond’s house for a day and talked about ball, about sports and about life. … He’s really real. I feel like I developed a relationship with him this past weekend and I could really relate to him because he’s going to tell you how it is and not going to sugarcoat anything, and that’s what I like about him.”
“I loved the energy at the game,” he added. “I could really see myself playing there. It was amazing because those fans are ride or die-type fans. When they came back, Tiger Stadium got rocking. I felt it rocking and those are the games that you want to play in.”
Cook was hosted by former Lamar Houston (Texas) High School teammate Grant Delpit, who also was an early graduate and has started eight games at free safety for LSU.
After giving a commitment next Monday, Cook will also graduate and enroll early at a school and be able to participate in spring football in the hopes of also securing a starting job, which is certainly a possibility at LSU after the coaches broke down the 2018 depth chart.
“Me and Grant were talking a lot about football and about the opportunities coming in as a freshman,” Cook said. “He spoke about how he grinded for it and we talked about stuff like that, and it would be great to play with Grant again in the future.”
Since returning back to Houston, coaches from Ohio State, Texas and LSU have kept up the pressure.
A day after his official visit to LSU, Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer and defensive coordinator Greg Schiano made a visit to Lamar High to check on the 5-star corner. Orgeron and Raymond will follow suit on Monday when they stop by to see Cook.
Since the spring, LSU’s head coach has been selling Cook on the program’s “DBU” tradition. Because of the opportunities available in the secondary this spring, Orgeron has made the Houston native a priority for the 2018 recruiting class.
“He told me that the proof is in the pudding,” Cook said of his talks with Orgeron. “You can’t argue it. Compared to most schools, it’s proven that they put defensive backs in the league. He kept it real and that’s what it is. Facts.”
Orgeron has personally reached out to Cook three times since his official visit to LSU to remind Cook of where he stands on the team’s defensive back board for this class.
Cook, looking at his phone, read off Orgeron’s most recent message, which adequately summed up the Tigers’ push for the All-American and what it means for him and his entire family leading into his commitment date.
” ‘I told the staff that cornerback is a top need for us and you are a priority for us. We are losing two more to the NFL and I can’t wait to see you play in purple and gold for us next year,’ ” Cook read out loud. ” It shows how much they want me. It shows that they really respect me as a player and that means a lot to a recruit — to feel like you’re wanted, not just needed, and that’s what stood out.
“My mom had the same reaction I had. After every visit, we talk about it and she felt good about LSU. Coach O, Coach Raymond have been hard on us since we left. They’re really coming at us.”
Breaking down Anthony Cook’s top 3
At one point, the Buckeyes were considered to be the favorite for Cook, which was a mystery to him. Allow him to explain.
Early on in his recruitment, Ohio State’s coaching staff was courting him the hardest. They were leading as far as communication goes, but Cook never declared them the leader.
As his commitment date rapidly approaches, Ohio State is on an even playing field with Texas and LSU. Since narrowing his top schools down to three, each of the finalists has dialed up the communication and there is no clear-cut leader in the clubhouse at this point.
“I would not say that I had a leader, but I would say that one school was in contact with me the most. I told reporters that and then they said that was my leader,” said Cook, referring to Ohio State. “It all changed my senior year. Schools really started coming after me and after I dropped my top three, then LSU, Texas and Ohio State really started to come after me.”
“Right now, it’s even,” he added. “It’s right there and it’s going to be a tough one.”
While many outsiders consider LSU a bit of a longshot to land a commitment from Cook next Monday, the 5-star cornerback insisted that isn’t the case.
He points to LSU’s increased communication since the spring and the even race since among those three finalists he made that public on July 31.
“For me, it wasn’t the case,” Cook said of the notion of LSU being a darkhorse. “People thought it was, but I’ve always liked LSU. I like the history they got there. They weren’t a darkhorse going in, but people assume a lot of things. I’ve never said anything like that.”
LSU is not a dark horse and, in fact, is a serious contender to be Cook’s choice next week.
The 6-foot, 170-pound defensive back has yet to make up his mind, but plans on sorting through his options in the next few days. How will he decide? Who will be involved? What will be the X-factor in this process?
Even Cook remains unsure of that.
“I’m going to talk to my family, call a little family meeting, go out to dinner and pray on it and see what the best decision is for me,” he said. “It’s completely wide open. What I said about those top three schools — I could go here because of that, go here because of that or maybe even this one … so it’s like … I don’t even know.”
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