Meade junior Niquekko Cook happily hit the road to Penn State on Saturday for a one-day football camp, relishing an opportunity to spend a few hours working with longtime Nittany Lion defensive line coach Larry Johnson.
As the summer heats up, the 6-foot-5, 235-pound defensive end hopes such trips will help him bridge the gap between recruiting interest and a scholarship offer. At worst, each camp presents an opportunity to get better for a prospect who added his first Football Bowl Subdivision offer from Old Dominion last week.
“It was really good,” Cook said of his latest camp. “Whenever you get the chance to learn from one of the best defensive line coaches in the country, you better listen. … They want to see that you’re coachable.”
Cook arrived in Anne Arundel County from Ohio last summer after his mother received a promotion at her retail job, just weeks before the start of fall camp. The transfer became a force on the defensive line for the Mustangs, creating problems for opposing offenses alongside Maine-bound tackle Malik Dorsey with 48 tackles, six sacks and six deflected passes.
This spring, Meade Coach Rich Holzer has entertained a steady stream of FBS assistants who are interested in Cook, including representatives from Wake Forest three times. The coach, himself a former college assistant, calls Cook “a sure-fire ACC-type kid.” But the scholarship offers have been slower to develop with only Old Dominion and Towson so far.
In turn, Cook has stocked his schedule with camp appearances. He’ll be at N.C. State on Sunday and plans to hit Wake Forest, South Carolina and possibly James Madison in the coming weeks. He also attended junior day at Maryland this spring.
“It’s been kind of a surprise,” Cook said. “They ask me to go to their camps and everything, so I don’t mind. I know I’m good. I’ve just got to show them.”
Last year, Cook played defense exclusively during Meade’s surprise run to the Maryland 4A East title, but Holzer plans to give him snaps at tight end this fall. Also a basketball player, Cook has the athleticism to become a contributor on offense, though college coaches have projected him as a speed-rushing defensive end or 3-4 outside linebacker.
Holzer said Cook’s grades have improved since he arrived at Meade and with a similarly strong senior year in the classroom, he’s on track to graduate next year with a 3.0 grade point average. The coach believes that the offers will pick up once one Bowl Championship Series suitor breaks the ice.
“He does everything you ask,” Holzer said. “He never misses a workout, a film session, a practice. He’s dedicated, works hard, and he’s got everything [physically] they’re looking for. To me, he’s the total package.”
Junior Jake Hawk has been Cook’s travel companion, the pair riding with Hawk’s father John, a Meade assistant. Hawk, a 6-foot-5, 260-pound lineman, picked up his first offer recently from Campbell, a Football Championship Conference school in the non-scholarship Pioneer Football League. He also has mutual interest with Navy, according to Holzer.
NUMBER CRUNCH: 140
The number of assists for Osbourn Park junior Corinne Wessels this season in 19 games. The Yellow Jackets meet AAA Northern Section champ Madison on Tuesday night in a state semifinal. Wessels is nine assists behind St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes senior Besser Dyson for the Washington area lead, though Dyson played 30 games.
– Bullis senior Nick Fields enjoyed a newsworthy 24 hours. The All-Met defenseman was honored on Sunday night at the C. Markland Kelly Award banquet, and on Monday morning, the Johns Hopkins commit found out the Blue Jays would be joining the Big Ten Conference in 2015.
WHAT TO WATCH TODAY:
It’s a full Tuesday of Virginia public school state playoff action. For soccer, baseball and softball, it’s the quarterfinals with plenty of matchups featuring two area teams, like No. 5 Yorktown at No. 3 Battlefield in girls’ soccer.
But if you must pick, check out the state semifinal doubleheader action at Westfield. After Wessels and Osbourn Park meet Madison, the nightcap has Langley looking for its second straight state final appearance against Loudoun Valley. Led by George Washington commit Erin Long in net, the Saxons could face the Warhawks for the fourth time this season in Saturday’s final.