Written By: Nick Holmes (@HoosierHolmes)
It goes without saying that the Hoosiers are in dire need of playmakers in the secondary, and if the past few years has showed us anything, Coach Wilson does not shy away from throwing a true freshman out on the gridiron if he believes he can make a difference. Recent history also shows us that gamble has paid off for Wilson. With only 20 days left in our countdown, we take a look at a true freshman who will certainly be in the mix at safety this fall, Jameel Cook Jr.
The 6'1", 190-pound Cook made his way to Bloomington earlier this summer after a successful senior campaign at Ridge Point High School in Missouri, Texas, where he recorded 50 tackles, broke up four passes, and forced two fumbles. His efforts landed him on the All-District 23-5A first team and he was a finalist for the Touchdown Club of Houston Defensive Player of the Year distinction.
Originally a commit of conference opponent Maryland Terrapins, Cook decided to flip his pledge to the Hoosiers after a trip in late January to Bloomington. He cited many things that factored into his decision, including the family feel of the program as well as how close the team is to winning.
He also mentioned in an interview with Peegs.com writer Matt Weaver, that he was a match physically with what the team is looking for in the secondary. "Coach Joseph told me they were looking for longer, athletic guys in the back (of the defense) and that is what they like about me," said Cook. "They want a guy at safety that can cover guys one-on-one, but also come up and make tackles and play in the box. They see me as a strong safety."
In an ideal world the Hoosiers could rely on a couple of veterans on the backend of their defense, however, that's not how things have shook out for the team. Indiana will almost certainly be playing some first year players in the secondary and Cook looks primed to see the field this fall. In addition to his great size and athleticism, he also has quite the pedigree, as his father played nine seasons in the NFL, winning a Super Bowl with the Tampa Buccaneers in 2003. Regardless of who ends up starting in game one against the Salukis, plenty of players including Cook, should get an opportunity to show their stuff in that first game.