Click to listen to NFL Draft Bible Player Spotlight hosted by Daniel Mogollon.
You really wowed everybody with your performance in Indianapolis and outshined every other tight end there. What’s the fastest you ever ran the forty-yard dash? Was that your best time in Indy, or could you do better?
Cook: I had, in my sophomore year, a 4.37. I weighed about 12 pounds less.
Speaking of your college career, you played kind of both tight end and receiver early on before settling in at tight end. How much influence did you have in the decision to have you play tight end, and are you in the right spot?
Cook: Coach Spurrier came to me and asked me if I wanted to move to tight end and I told him, “Anything to help the team” and we were good to go. We went ahead and made the transition. I feel comfortable there and happy that I went there because I just love the position.
You mentioned putting on weight and being heavier than a couple of years ago. Could you drop weight and play wide out again if that was something that a team wanted you to do?
Cook: If a team wanted me to, I wouldn’t have a problem doing it. That wouldn’t be a problem at all. Something like that ain’t that hard.
Has anyone brought that up at all, or are all the teams looking at you strictly as a tight end?
Cook: It's been mostly tight end. There hasn’t really been any talk about me playing receiver.
During your last year at South Carolina, give us a rough estimate of how many times you lined up in a three-point stance and how often you lined up outside?
Cook: I lined up quite a bit attached to the line of scrimmage. Coach Spurrier actually liked me blocking out of a two point so I just kind of put my hand down and got down in the two-point squat and stance. We were more of a spread offense so I lined up in the slot also. I lined up outside in the slot more than often than I was attached to the line.
That seems to be the theme in college football right now. Teams are going to that spread offense and that’s something not only you, but almost all the tight ends in the class are being asked about, their blocking skills. Do you think those questions are legitimate?
Cook: I was down in Florida working out with the o-line coach on my blocking. Coming out of my stance in the three point, working on staying low and coming out aggressive because you know in our offense, I wasn't asked to do a lot of that. So just being able to work on that, I’ve gotten a lot better.
Alright now, talk about your decision to leave South Carolina early. At what point did you start thinking you might make that move to declare for the NFL Draft in 2009?
Cook: It was after the bowl game. I sat down with my family and just prayed about it and thought it was just the best decision to come out now.
What were some of the reasons for going?
Cook: Some of the top reasons...Me and my family just prayed about it and just sat down and weighed our options. We just really just decided that it was the best time and I love South Carolina and I think I’ll always have a home there. I just felt in my heart, it was the best time to go.
What do you think you're going to miss most...is there anything you're starting to miss already?
Cook: Just being part of the atmosphere there. The fans, all your teammates and just the camaraderie at South Carolina.
What are you hearing from people in terms of how your life is going to be different once you join the NFL, now that you’re a professional and not a college player? Have you spoken with any former South Carolina players or anybody that’s in the NFL?
Cook: A lot of people are giving me advice and tell me to invest my money wisely and be smart...to go out and perform, do the best I can, and have fun.
Invest your money wisely is advice we could all take nowadays right?
Before we leave South Carolina, what was it like playing for Coach Steve Spurrier, one of the big names in the game?
Cook: It was a very fun and exciting process in my fours years and I really enjoyed it. Coach Spurrier is a good guy and he really taught me what I needed to know and taught me things that I will use, really for the rest of my life. I love Coach Spurrier, he’s a great man.
Okay, can you give us any insight that the public doesn’t know about him, or something they would be surprised to hear about him?
Cook: He just a cool and funny guy. He likes to joke and likes to have fun. He’s just a great man.
One of the things he’s most known for in public is grabbing that visor and throwing it around. Did you ever cause him to throw that visor?
Cook: Yeah, I’ve caused him to throw that visor a few times. Those are just mistakes that come from the game and you live and learn by it. He’s good about getting you right and getting you ready for games.
Give us a sneak peek as to what we should expect from Wesley Saunders who was your back up last year and will be the started next year for the Gamecocks.
Cook: Wesley is a great player. He’s got size, he can run...he’s going to be good as long as he puts it in his mind to be the best. Wes is going to be good.
Give us another analysis of another player and let’s get even closer than your football family. Your brother Jason Cook is a fullback for Ole Miss who looks to be joining you in the NFL this September.
Cook: I’m going to make it simple for you—my brother is pretty much a monster. Jason is pretty much solid muscle. He runs well, he’s a great blocker. He taught me a lot about how to block.
You kind of help him with the pass catching and he helps you with the blocking?
Cook: I think he has the pass catching thing down and he also throws passes in games.
So does he throw any passes to you?
Cook: No (laughs). At Ole Miss he threw passes in the game.
How about you guys, do you work out together? He could warm you up, right?
Cook: Nah. He’s finishing up school and he’s at school and I’m up here in South Carolina.
Did you guys talk a lot during your college careers?
Cook: Oh yeah, before every game. He's my best friend, man.
I hear that, I would say the same thing about my brother. Now last year you guys won, 31-24 at Ole Miss. You had three catches for 88 yards. What was that like, did you talk that week?
Cook: Oh yeah. We were looking forward to that game for the past four years. It was really lights out for all our family and friends to just come and watch us.
Was there a lot of trash talking going on before and after?
Cook: Oh yeah. You don’t even want to know. Obviously we got the upper hand on him so he can’t say too much.
Who’s the better trash talker?
Cook: Ahh, I think it would have to be me. 'Cause I back mine up a little bit more.
(laughs) So at the end of the day, it comes down to what you do on the field?
Cook: Yeah, exactly.
You talk about family and friends. Was it tough for the family, was there anyone torn? Who do you think got the most support?
Cook: We are a close-knit family so we got even support all around the table. We had over 30 family members there so it was just good. It was like a family reunion.
That’s pretty cool. Is that the first time you guys ever played against each other?
Well we will have to see about the NFL. You guys might be meeting again or who knows, you may be reunited and be on the same team. How cool would that be?
Cook: That would be awesome.
Talk a little bit more about playing in the SEC. Who’s the best cover guy you faced during your time in the SEC?
Cook: The best cover guy I probably played against was Asher Allen, DB from Georgia.
The cornerback from Georgia. How about the toughest guy to block?
Cook: Probably the D-end from LSU. Because they just rotate so many. Tyson Jackson is a very good player.
We had Tyson on and he’s a good guy as well. Talk to us a little about the teams showing interest in you. I believe Miami, St. Louis, New Orleans, Jacksonville, Buffalo and Cleveland. Am I missing anybody?
Cook: I’m going out to Oakland and Baltimore.
Is this the toughest part of the process? Flying around all over the place visiting different teams and talking with different teams and having teams come work you out?
Cook: No, that’s the fun part. The hard part is was the Combine.
So at least here you get to show off your football skills. What was the most difficult part of the Combine?
Cook: I had 19 interviews in one night. It was pretty tough.
Wow, 19 interviews in one night? How many bottles of water did you go though to keep your mouth from getting dry?
Cook: There was quite a bit of water going around.
How long did that take? Seems like that would take all night long.
Cook: Started about 6:30 and ended, I believe, around 11 or 11:30.
You must of slept real good that night. So doing interviews like this must be a piece of cake rather than going through all that?
Cook: That’s right.
How about your Pro Day? I believe you worked out with three tight end coaches from Philly, Pittsburgh, and Cincinnati and broke down some film with them. What was that like?
Cook: It was just an evaluation process and stuff. They wanted to see the way I played and what kind of person I was and what kind of character I had. Breaking down film, they wanted to know about my blocking skills. So for the most part they just wanted to see if I could block.
Time for three-and-out. First down...if you had the first pick in the NFL Draft, who would you pick?
Cook: If I had the first pick in the NFL Draft who would I pick? Jamon Meredith from South Carolina, offensive lineman.
(laughs) I like that. I had guys say themselves but never a teammate. I like that. Second down...is there a tight end whose game you'd like to emulate?
Cook: I like Jason Witten. He’s an all-around tight end.
Alright. Another SEC guy from Tennessee, one who plays for the Dallas Cowboys. Okay, we will go with this question, third down: You were a hoops star in high school so tell me, who is your all-time favorite basketball player?
Cook: Who else, Michael Jordan.
Cook: Hands down.
No love for the young guys, Lebron (James) or Kobe (Bryant)? They have a ways to go, huh?
Cook: Kobe is almost there. Kobe is a great player. LeBron is past Jordan’s level at this spot now. I love watching those guys.
Photo Credit: SEC Sports Media
Sunday, April 19, 2009
Click to listen to NFL Draft Bible Player Spotlight hosted by Daniel Mogollon.