Young Bucks: Jonathon Cooper’s talent could help him make an instant impact at a crowded position
Ohio State’s 2016 recruiting class – the country’s fourth-ranked class – featured 25 signees from 11 states and many of those players are expected to contribute to the Buckeyes on-field success early in their careers.
Join Landof10.com as we introduce you to the next wave of Buckeyes in our Young Bucks series.
Who is Jonathon Cooper?
In February 2014, the question “Who is Jonathon Cooper” was being asked by nearly every recruiting analyst and scout in attendance at the Best of the Midwest scouting combine in Indianapolis. A blazing fast pass-rusher from a small town outside of Columbus, Cooper entered that event with zero offers and left it as a player everyone was talking about following a dominating performance. Five months later, in July, Cooper lit up Friday Night Lights at Ohio Stadium and was offered by the Buckeyes shortly thereafter.
- Height: 6-foot-3
- Weight: 248
- Number: 18
- Hometown: Gahanna, Ohio
- High School: Lincoln
- Composite Ranking (Position): 3 (DE)
- High School Highlights
By November 2014, Cooper was committed to Ohio State and on his way to becoming one of the country’s most dynamic recruits. He exploded onto the national camp scene in the spring of 2015, obliterating offensive linemen at the Rivals 5-Star Challenge and then again on his way to being invited to Nike’s The Opening that summer. A U.S. Army All-American, Cooper ascended to 5-star prospect status in the summer of 2015 and decided then to enroll early with Ohio State, landing officially as a Buckeye in January 2016.
What does he bring to Ohio State?
He still needs to put on more weight in order to be consistently effective against college offensive linemen, but Cooper is an elite athlete who will find ways to get to the quarterback. His size and speed combination was lethal in high school and helped propel him to the top of the recruiting rankings.
On a defensive line that lost three starters from the 2015 team, the addition of Cooper will help bolster the depth at defensive end. If everything goes well, he could be a candidate for the rotation from the outset of his career.
Will he play as a freshman?
Cooper plays one of the deepest positions on the team, which means he’ll have to go against the likes of Tyquan Lewis, Sam Hubbard, Jalyn Holmes, Darius Slade and Nick Bosa in the fight for snaps. The good news for the true freshman is that the defensive line has had a pretty deep rotation over the last two years and even more reps might be up for grabs this year with mainstay Joey Bosa off to the NFL.
Having considered those factors, Cooper’s talent seems like it’s too great to keep him off the field in his first year of college ball. On National Signing Day in 2016, defensive coordinator Luke Fickell seemed to believe Cooper was up to to the task.
“And then you’d say maybe a (player like) Jonathan Cooper, it might be a little bit on the edge where you might not be as physically dominant on the inside,” Ohio State defensive coordinator Luke Fickell said in February. “But it is difficult. But, again, we recruit those guys with the idea that we think that they can come in and give us an opportunity to compete and vie for some playing time, especially if you’re playing nine or 10 guys up there.”
Pencil in Cooper to find his way onto the field at some point this season, and don’t be surprised if he makes a contribution sooner than later.