For as long as he can remember, Octavious Cooley has gone by “Dirt.”
Yes, Dirt. The stuff that’s underneath grass that gets wet and becomes mud.
“It came from my great grandfather a long time ago,” Cooley said. “He bought me about two or three outfits. Every time I went outside I would come back in and be dirty. It stuck with me for the longest time.”
Cooley says he earned the nickname when he was 6 or 7 years old. The ironic part of this story is what caused him to earn the nickname, coming inside daily, dusty from head to toe after spending hours playing football.
A sport he was convinced he would never be very good at.
“I wasn’t big enough. Eventually it all fell into place,” he said.
Dirt no longer has to worry about having the physical attributes to play the game.
The tight end played last season at 6-foot-4, 245 pounds, dominating opponents with his size, speed and catch radius.
But even for the monster four-star prospect who uses his size to his advantage, 245 pounds was a lot to handle.
“It was a lot of weight,” he said. “I’m down to 240 now. I’m trying to get down to 230 but if I don’t, anything is good. Well, anything is better than I was.”
Cooley’s projection at the college level has fluctuated over the last year with the weight he’s put on and lost.
At times he looked like he could become a defensive end.
But Dirt is set on remaining an offensive weapon for the defending 5A champions and beyond.
“It’s hard to get around 245 pounds. Hard to go around all that weight,” he said. “Just use your body as a shield.”
What’s helped the Dandy Dozen selection is an offseason on the Class 5A semifinalist basketball team. Laurel boys basketball coach Marcus Price put an extra emphasis on conditioning, which Cooley believes will help become a better football player.
“Shape, shape, shape,” Cooley said. “(Price) doesn’t really care about you winning the game, he cares about you being in shape. He knows you’re not going to be playing basketball in the future. Eventually you have to prepare your body for what you’re going to do in the future.”
For Cooley, that future consists of playing H-Back at Ole Miss, a decision he’s stuck with since he committed on Dec. 31 last year.
“I was watching the (Peach Bowl) and I was just seeing myself out there and what position I could play, what I could have done to help them out and win the game,” he said. “That’s why I’m committed.”