One of the top three running back prospects for 2018, James Cook, de-committed from Florida State on Tuesday, and now, the question is, can UGA pull the talented brother of former Seminole tailback. Dalvin Cook, to Athens?
There have been heavy expectations that James Cook would follow in his older brother’s footsteps and play for the Seminoles at Florida State, but sometimes expectations are meant to be broken. This is the case with James Cook, who had been committed to FSU for over a year and a half, since January 17, 2016. In his de-commitment announcement, J. Cook thanked the Seminoles and Head Coach Jimbo Fisher and said “it’s nothing personal. Just business.”
The “business” side of the equation for J. Cook is where he will fit in best, have the best opportunity, and of course, playing time. Georgia is one of the programs that fit all three of those criteria for the Miami Central High School standout. He came away from his visit with the Bulldogs back on April 8th impressed with the coaching staff, the facilities, atmosphere, and Athens, and he came back to the Classic City on June 15th for the Kirby Smart Football Camp.
What are the chances that the Georgia coaching staff can pull off recruiting James Cook to Athens?
Right now, pretty good. The Dogs are trending for J. Cook and I’ve had him on “flip-watch” for the past couple of months. Georgia has the commitment of the number one running back in the country for 2018 in Zamir White, aka “Zeus,” who committed back on June 27th. If J. Cook were to commit to the Bulldogs and both he and Zeus did end up signing at UGA, that duo would be right up there with 2014’s Nick Chubb and Sony Michel or 2012’a Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall. Which begs another question, would UGA already having the commitment from a big time back like Zeus deter J. Cook from Athens?
No, and simply because of how Georgia has used two and more tailbacks recently and throughout the storied history of the program. In fact, J. Cook told DawgNation’s Jeff Sentell that “the ability to pair up with White would make for a ‘Thunder and Lightning’ opportunity at UGA.”
So, what can James Cook bring to the table for the Dogs at tailback?
While Cook is not as big as Zamir White who is 5 foot 11.5 and 221 lbs, he is well put together at 5 foot 11.5 and 190 and has the frame to add more muscle and weight. Cook is a great high school running back in his own right, like White, who runs with great instincts and vision. He has a feel for where a crease will open up along the line, and then he is decisive and has the ability and balance to make a cut to shoot through the gap and get into the running lane. Like White, he rarely goes down with the first contact or hit, but that is if defenders can get a hand on him. Cook is a very elusive runner and is often able to make the first defender or two miss. But what sets Cook apart from other high school running backs is his ability as a receiver.
Four-star RB James Cook with a touchdown snag for Lunarbeast. pic.twitter.com/z2CdkvodHL
— Erik Skopil (@Erik_Skopil) July 3, 2017
Those skills and talents, what he has done on the high school gridiron as well as camps, like this past week’s Nike The Opening Finals, have earned Cook a four-star rating from 247, ESPN, and Scout while Rivals has him as a five-star prospect. He is ranked as the No. 3 running back for 2018 by ESPN and Rivals, the No. 4 back by 247 and No. 5 by Scout. Cook is an ESPN Top 300, Rivals top 100, and Scout top 100 player, and is rated the No. 33 overall prospect by 247 Sports’ composite ranking system.
Cook is expected to graduate early and be an early enrollee at the program he signs with; so, his next commitment announcement, which he expects to make sometime in December, will likely be his final choice. If he does indeed choose the Bulldogs, Cook would join a talented group of Georgia tailbacks for 2018 with Brian Herrien, Elijah Holyfield, D’Andre Swift, and of course, Zamir White. In addition to Cook, other 2018 running backs considering UGA and that have offers from the Bulldogs are Hattiesburg High School’s Fabian Franklin out of Hattiesburg, MS; Mountain Brook High School’s Harold Joiner out of Birmingham, AL; Wake Forest High School’s Devon Lawrence out of Wake Forest, NC; and Bainbridge High School’s Dameon Pierce out of Bainbridge, GA.
Here are some highlights of James Cook.
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