Players like Octavious Cooley don’t come around often.
As an eighth grader, the wide receiver/tight end exhibited crisp route running and body control to make catches that made him look like a seasoned letterman before he ever played a varsity snap.
Todd Breland knew this 14 year old was going to be a game-changer. Five years later, Cooley has lived up to expectations.
“I knew he was going to be different,” the Laurel coach said. “He was able to do things that other 14 year olds can’t
“Other than (current Washington Redskins nose tackle) Jerrell Powe, he’s the only other player I’ve coached that can change the complexion of a game.”
Stat breakdown: 46 receptions for 1,062 yards and 9 touchdowns as a junior.
Rankings: Four-star prospect by 247Sports, Rivals and Scout. Ranked No. 7 in The Clarion-Ledger’s Targeted 22.
What makes him a Dandy: The tight end was in consideration for MaxPreps National Freshman of the Year after posting nearly 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2012. Since then, Cooley has grown into a top-100 player nationally and the state’s No. 1 tight end. His size is a nightmare for teams to scheme for and creates true mismatches. Cooley dropped a good 20 pounds after his junior season and now stands at 6-foot-4, 245 pounds. With that body structure, where he plays in college could get interesting. Ole Miss and the other schools still after Cooley are recruiting him as a tight end or H-Back (like Evan Engram play for the Rebels, lining up behind the line of scrimmage), but his body type suggests that he could grow into a defensive end at the next level. At Laurel, Cooley is every bit a wide receiver and offensive lineman in one. He runs crisp routes, makes tough catches away from his body and run blocks and pass blocks for his teammates. Cooley drags multiple defenders (a play on his Hudl film shows him still moving with four players trying to bring him down) well after they make contact and is a critical redzone threat for the Golden Tornadoes. His catch radius is huge and the tight end rivals some of the state’s top receivers when it comes to making athletic and rangy plays.
Where he’s going: Cooley is as solid on Ole Miss as the day he committed on New Years Eve 2014. Mississippi State, Alabama and Florida State are making a hard push to land the four-star tight end but there’s little doubt that Cooley won’t end up a Rebel when it’s all said and done. The Laurel stand out played on the same 7-on-7 team as Ole Miss commits Shea Patterson (IMG) and Daniel Crowell (Meridian) and made several visits to Oxford during the spring and summer.
Best time to catch him this fall: Nov. 6 vs. Wayne County. Four-star defensive tackle Benito Jones and the War Eagles will look to avenge their loss to Laurel from 2014. Cooley and the firepower the Golden Tornadoes have on offense will make this one a fast-paced, high scoring game.
What they said: “He’s a very mild mannered kid until he puts a helmet on,” Breland said. “His mental state goes to a different level. He’s the ultimate competitor and that’s what sets him apart – his God-given ability and willingness to compete.”
Worth noting: Cooley is the second Dandy Dozen selection from Laurel and first in 26 years, joining former Golden Tornadoes defensive end Maurice Moore, who was chosen in 1989.
Contact Courtney Cronin at (601) 961-7091 or email@example.com. Follow @CourtneyRCronin on Twitter.