DAVIE, Fla.—James Cook of Miami Central is a five-star recruit ranked by two major recruiting services as the nation’s No. 2 and No. 3 running back prospect in the Class of 2018.
Yet Cook, a 5-11, 190-pounder, was just a third-team All-Miami-Dade County running back this past season as named by The Miami Herald.
Seven running backs were selected ahead of the 18-year-old Cook in the large-school class, which is indicative of how competitive this county is, but it’s also a sign that this is a prospect whose big name has yet to match up with similar-sized production.
He gets his big name by virtue of the work turned in by his brother Dalvin Cook, 21, a two-time first-team All-American at Florida State who rushed for 4,464 yards, 46 touchdowns and a 6.5 average in a brilliant three-year college career. He is regarded as a likely high-first-round pick in this year’s NFL Draft.
James Cook, speaking Sunday at Nike’s The Opening football camp at the Miami Dolphins practice facility at Nova Southeastern University, said he is inclined to follow Dalvin’s cleat marks to FSU.
“It’s 80 percent,” Cook said when asked about his FSU commitment. “I’m still like looking and deciding to see where I’m going to go, (but FSU has) a great program and a great coaching staff.”
Cook, one of 12 athletes at Sunday’s camp to earn invitations to the finals of The Opening this summer in Oregon, said his brother has been helpful in figuring out his recruitment.
“Dalvin said he had a great experience (at FSU) – he loved it,” Cook said. “He told me, ‘James, go where it fits you’.”
Cook said Southern Cal, Georgia, Florida and Clemson are the other colleges he could see fitting.
A possible factor in favor of Southern Cal is the fact that James has a cousin there in freshman defensive back Jamel Cook.
“He is recruiting me out there,” Cook said of his former Miami Central teammate. “He wants me to come out there just to see how it is.”
Recruiting aside, it will be interesting to see how productive Cook can be as a senior. Central graduated two first-team All-County offensive linemen, Navaughn Donaldson, who signed with the Miami Hurricanes, and Mershawn Miller, who signed with the FIU Panthers.
Cook, though, looks big enough to create his own running lanes. He said he can bench press 270 pounds three times, which is believable given the massive size of his biceps.
Even so, Cook—although he is quiet and humble—wants you to know there is skill behind that power.
“Smooth and relaxed,” Cook said when asked about his running style. “I’m working on catching more passes out of the slot. I’ve done that a lot already in high school.”