Paint Branch QB Gaston Cooper commits to Duquesne

Paint Branch quarterback Gaston Cooper committed to Duquesne on Saturday and plans to sign a letter of intent with the school this week.

Paint Branch's Gaston Cooper committed to Duquesne this weekend. (Photo courtesy of Tim Ho) Paint Branch’s Gaston Cooper committed to Duquesne this weekend. (Photo courtesy of Tim Ho)

The 6-foot, 180-pound Cooper, who established himself as one of the area’s most productive and exciting players in 2013, visited the Pittsburgh-area school late last month.

“Just the comfortability,” Cooper said. “Just where it’s located…it’s pretty much like home, so that was pretty much the final factor.”

Cooper, a second-team All-Met in the fall, had one of the best statistical seasons for a quarterback in recent Montgomery County history. He led the team in both passing (3,190 yards) and rushing (609), and he scored 63 total touchdowns in leading the Panthers to the Maryland 4A state semifinals.

Despite his growth as a passer (he threw just seven interceptions in 379 attempts this season), Cooper won little interest on the recruiting front until late in the season. He grew frustrated with the process, he said, but he still went through his progressions with the schools that were willing to give him a look. Wake Forest entered the picture late, and several Football Championship Subdivision schools were interested.

One of those schools was Duquesne, which finished 7-4 in 2013. He has family in the Pittsburgh area, he said, and the academics fit his interests. On the field, Cooper will get a chance to prove himself all over again at a position at which some schools were unwilling to take a chance on him. The Dukes run a spread offense, that although it has multiple looks, is similar in scheme to the offense Cooper mastered at Paint Branch. That’s a good entry point for the versatile quarterback, who will make it official on National Signing Day Wednesday.

“At first, it was kind of frustrating not really hearing some of the colleges that I had talked to previously, before the season,” Cooper said. “Once I got into it, I got comfortable and it started to be pretty fun.”

NUMBER CRUNCH: 6

The number of individual winners by Good Counsel’s wrestling team during Saturday’s WCAC wrestling championships, which helped the Falcons to their second consecutive title.

BREAKFAST LINKS

— Gonzaga won just one individual event during Saturday’s Washington Metropolitan Prep School Swimming and Diving League championship, yet the depth of the Eagles helped the school win a fourth straight title.

— The Potomac and Largo boys’ basketball teams have a budding rivalry brewing, but the Wolverines’ depth proved to be on another level in Friday night’s key win.

— The Gwynn Park girls are eyeing a special run later this month, but the Yellow Jackets didn’t overlook a tough task at hand against Crossland this weekend.

— The South River girls lost a key player to an injury against Severna Park, but Leah Smith and company didn’t waver down the stretch and moved within one game of first place in Anne Arundel play with the win.

VIDEOS FROM THE WEEKEND

The Panthers run past the Spartans with a balanced scoring effort. (Cesar Souza for Synthesis/Koubaroulis LLC./The Washington Post)

The Bobcats finish strong to claim a tough victory over the Cavaliers. (Terence McHale for Synthesis/Koubaroulis LLC./The Washington Post)

PHOTOS FROM THE WEEKEND

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

Girls’ Basketball: National Cathedral at Bullis, 6 p.m.

The Eagles (8-2, 7-1), led by the area’s leading scorer in junior Marta Sniezek (28.9), look for their third straight win against Duke signee Lynee’ Belto and the Bulldogs (8-9, 7-1).

Roman Stubbs covers the University of Maryland athletics for The Washington Post.

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Tariq Lee · January 31, 2014

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