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Jeff Sentell/DawgNation
South Gwinnett 4-star DT Robert Cooper is committed to Florida State but will take official visits to Alabama and Georgia.

Florida State commit Robert Cooper admits Georgia has a slight shot at a flip

Want to attack every day with the latest Georgia football recruiting info? That’s what the Intel will bring at least five days a week. The budget today calls for kicking the tires on a potential flip from South Gwinnett behemoth Robert Cooper


SNELLVILLE, Ga. ― Robert Cooper, the very appropriately named “Trench Monster” for South Gwinnett High School in the Metro Atlanta area, is committed to Florida State.

He made that pledge to the Seminoles in June 2016, but Alabama and Georgia still loom here. Those big boys hope to flip Cooper like those huge tractor-trailer tires that are now so prevalent around high school football fields.

This 6-foot-2, 355-pound player won’t be an easy flip. Cooper’s game is being dug in.

He’s virtually immovable from his position at nose guard. If his Comets are not blitzing, he has to be double teamed.

Robert Cooper-UGA recruiting
4-star DT Robert Cooper is a massive human being that is more than capable of bench pressing 400-plus pounds and repping out 225 pounds more than 30 times. (Jeff Sentell/Dawgnation)

He ranks on the 247Sports Composite as the nation’s No. 5 defensive tackle and No. 79 overall prospect for 2018.

Cooper is unique, though. It starts with the 50-inch waist and the 3XL shoulder pads. His powerful arms are like pistons.

I’m talking about NBA old-school Pistons such as Ben Wallace and Bill Laimbeer. Those arms are enforcers. He’s already capable of bench pressing 440 pounds or repping out 225 pounds about 33 times.

440 pounds. 33 reps on 225 on the bench. That was a purposeful chorus of those head-scratching feats for clarity.

His uniqueness continues down to his size-16 feet. Those are his real moneymakers.

Cooper is big and powerful, but his first steps can be classified as very fast. He trains on the side alongside UGA freshman OLB Robert Beal at Georgia Sports Performance in Suwanee.

He has been told that his first few steps mirror those from Beal, who was rated as the nation’s No. 8 DE for 2017.

The coaching staff at Georgia is aware of that. That’s why the coaches are bulking up their communication to try to flip Cooper’s commitment.

“They have just basically said that I’m more needed there than at FSU,” Cooper said. “They said they didn’t sign a D-tackle last year. Well, they said they did but he ended up going JUCO. So they just said they needed a two-gap D-tackle.”

Cooper said the depth chart at Georgia is the most favorable of his three options. The Seminoles signed three defensive tackles back in February, including Marvin Wilson. Wilson was rated as the nation’s No. 1 overall DT in the Class of 2017.

The Seminoles also signed Ja’len Parks a year ago at that spot. Parks rated as the nation’s No. 9 prospect at DT for 2017.

What shot does UGA have at flipping Robert Cooper?

Looking for a big thought which crystallizes where Georgia might stand in his recruitment? We will include two.

Robert Cooper-UGA recruiting
Robert Cooper will take three official visits this fall: Alabama, Florida State and Georgia. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation)

“I know I am needed at every school,” Cooper said. “That’s as far as Florida State, Alabama and Georgia. But Georgia makes it known to me the most right now.”

Those words do not come from a position coach or a coordinator. That’s from Kirby Smart.

“I hear from Kirby more than any head coach ever,” Cooper said. “Yeah. Coach Kirby.”

The main message there: “We” need a D-tackle.

It does appear the Bulldogs were tardy in offering Cooper. The scholarship offer finally came on Jan. 26.

It seems that when Georgia parted ways early this year with former line coach Tracy Rocker, the staff began to view Cooper in a different light.

“If Georgia would have offered me earlier, there is a high chance that I would be committed to them right now,” Cooper told DawgNation. “As of right now, there is a slight chance for me with Georgia I would say. It just depends on how everything goes.”

The way the undefeated Bulldogs have played this year has enhanced their shot.

“Georgia is looking way better,” he said. “I don’t know what they did, but they are playing way better than the past Georgia that I have seen.”

He remembers what Smart has said to him during the recruiting process. Georgia needs more defensive tackles to play its best football on defense.

“At first, it was kind of weird,” Cooper said. “He was making it sound like the defense couldn’t be as good [as it could be] because they didn’t have any D-tackles. But the way they are playing? They are playing pretty stout.”

Cooper says he gets the most text messages from Georgia. Alabama’s Tosh Lupoi is in second place.

He’s committed to Florida State. That’s his top school. He initially said Alabama and Georgia are tied for second place behind the Seminoles.

Cooper was quick to update that No. 2 slot.

“But Georgia with a little lead,” Cooper said.

Can anyone flip Robert Cooper? 

Let’s set the stage with a few things we know about that.

  • Cooper will not sign early. He will be a February signee.


  • Crimson Tide DT Da’Ron Payne will move on to the NFL after this season. Alabama aims for Cooper to fill that soon-to-be void. That is the clear pitch from the Crimson Tide.


  • Cooper told DawgNation on Thursday he will take three official visits. He’ll have some finality to his decision after that. He said he plans to visit Alabama, Florida State and Georgia. “No decision will be made until after all three of those visits,” he said.


  • Those three officials will take place during the season. The Florida State official will be for the Louisville game on Oct. 21. Cooper said the best time to visit Alabama could be for the LSU game on Nov. 4. The best possible UGA trip weekend right now for him could be Nov. 18 for the Kentucky game. If that schedule holds out, then the Bulldogs would get his last official visit.

Cooper now says that he did rush his 2016 commitment to the Seminoles.

“When I committed as a sophomore back then, I was 15 years old,” Cooper said. “There’s nothing wrong with Florida State here, but I am just looking at all my best other options.”

He said the process feels “frustrating.”

“When you commit you take some of the [pressure] off, but then schools start coming with other stuff,” he said. “You just don’t know what to believe. For me, it is frustrating. That is the best way to put it.”

It turns out the “Trench Monster” is pretty tough

South Gwinnett is not having the season it wants to as of now. Cooper has missed the past two games. There was also an open date in there for him to help recover from what he describes as a shoulder strain.

He will do so at less than 100 percent.

Robert Cooper-UGA recruiting
South Gwinnett standout Robert Cooper has been named to the Under Armour All-American game. (Jeff Sentell/Dawgnation)

“I would say about 80 (percent) and I shouldn’t be playing tomorrow but I am,” Cooper said on Thursday. “I just miss being out there and miss being able to help my team.”

Steven Davenport, the head coach at South Gwinnett, says that Cooper is being modest. He estimated that Cooper will play more at 65 or 70 percent. His doctors have said he cannot hurt his shoulder anymore. It is just a matter of pain tolerance.

“The kid loves to play football first of all and feels a lot of kinship with his teammates,” Davenport said. “There’s a bit of sadness here right now for him because his friends are not being successful right now. I think he’s maybe rushing himself back a little bit. That arm of his is still hurting.”

Cooper’s coach used the following terms to describe his senior.

“Great kid and super personality with a 3.6 or 3.7 GPA in the classroom.”

“He’s everything that you look for.”

“Team leader on and off the field.”

“Great guy to be around.”

“Way better than I ever expected to be off the field.”

Davenport is in his first year at South Gwinnett. When he arrived, he had his reservations about Cooper and his weight. If he was successful at 360 pounds, then he would be a much better player at 340.

“But to me, he is already lightning fast,” Davenport said. “You would be losing some of the mass there and he can already move very well at that weight. When I got here, I had the same concerns about that weight. The initial thought process is that weight is too much for any human being.”

But then he looked out his office window one day. He saw Cooper at work.

“I watched him working out,” Davenport said. “His quickness for a kid that big is unbelievable. When you combine that with a kid that also has his strength and his mass, I think the future is going to be tremendously bright for him even at 350 pounds. When you look at him, he is not a fat kid. He controls that weight pretty well. He is just a big heavy kid.”

The 4-star prospect plans to study business in college with an emphasis in a Finance or an Accounting major.





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