When looking at and talking to Cooper Meek, one would not immediately guess that he is still just a freshman. On the field, the 6-3, 195-pound, quarterback controls his offense like a varsity starter capable of making the tough throws and on a line. Off the field, Meek possesses a maturity beyond his grade classification showing insight to the bigger picture with his overall growth planned out and hard work poured into the classroom. The mix of the total package has already created a buzz in the Los Angeles area with fans and coaches alike ready to see him on the field against varsity competition in 2018. In a Recruiting News Guru exclusive interview, I sat down with Meek to learn more about his maturation on the field with an update on his summer college camp circuit.
Cooper, entering your freshman season, there was a lot of interest on your game and how you would play; how did the season go?
“The season was awesome. The week before our first game. I was in a tackling drill and broke my pinky. It was the same kind of break as Justin Fields’ – it snapped. I missed first five games of the season, but we still went 9-1 that season. We had a great season. When I came back, I was the first freshman ever to get varsity snaps at Notre Dame. That was cool. We were the Mission League champs last season. I learned a lot last season; my JV coach allowed me to call audibles and allowed me to call plays. We ran a lot of RPOs (run-pass option), that has helped with my growth this year.”
Which areas of your game improved the most last year?
“The mental portion of the game improved a lot. Last spring, Coach Bucky, our 7v7 coach let me call the plays then. That helped my growth. Coming into the season, I was familiar with coverages and plays; that helped my understanding of defenses. The best QBs are the best readers of defenses. JT Daniels (Mater Dei/USC) is a good example of that. I tried to get the ball out quicker and worked on staying in the pocket more. In high school this season, I want to stay in the pocket more, take hits, and rifle the ball in there.”
Which areas of your game are you working on this offseason?
“This offseason, I am trying to put on weight. I am working on my agility. At 6-3, 200, it is harder to move laterally; the best QBs are good at that. I ran track this year to help get faster. I am working on the speed of the game. The jump last year was big. From JV to varsity, there is more movement and disguising of coverages. I want to know what is coming, recognizing blitzes – I want to be at the level of knowing what everyone is doing so I can change offensive line protections based on the defenses if needed.”
Are you working with a private quarterback coach this spring?
“Yes. I am working with Danny Hernandez from Team Dime and Coach Robert Harding.”
What are you working on with Coach Hernandez?
“We are working on my velocity. I want to bullet the ball in there. I want to make any throw from any position and from anywhere on the field. I am also working on being a leader of the team.”
Did you play 7v7 ball this spring?
“Yes. I played with Big Play Football.”
How did that help you further develop your game?
“It helped a lot. They let me call all the plays. Calling the plays at a young age helps me to learn from my mistakes. If I make a mistake, we talk about it right then and I learn from it. Then you know what you could have done better for the next play.”
As mentioned, even with three upperclassmen ahead of you in 2017, you got some snaps in at the varsity level. How did the snaps then help you with your game this offseason?
“It showed me how fast the varsity level really is. You have 1- to 1.5 seconds each snap to get the ball off. In 7v7 ball, they give you four seconds, and you don’t have to focus on your drops. At the varsity level, you have to get deep quick, and you have to get the ball out in about 1.5 seconds. 7v7 has helped me go through full reads. Having done that, it will pay off big during the season.”
How are spring practices going with the Knights?
“Our practices have been great. We are missing a few guys with track, but we should have them this week. We are energetic, our skill guys look great, and our line looks great. Our guys are really hyped about playing this year. I think the fans will see a different team this year in a good way. This will be an exciting year. And, we signed with Adidas; we will be swagged out this year. That is exciting to me.”
What is the quarterback competition like between you and Tobi Baklayan?
“It is really exciting. He loves it as much as I do. On JV last year, I was the only QB. Having another guy there keeps you accountable. There is no slacking off. We compete in the film room and on the field. It is pushing both of us to be our best. We have great chemistry. There is no animosity between us. We have each other’s back and have the ‘may the best man win’ mentality.”
Have any college programs come by Notre Dame High School this spring to meet with you or watch you throw in-person?
“Chip Kelly (head coach) came by from UCLA.”
Nice. Are any other schools showing interest?
“I have been talking to San Jose State, UC-Davis, and Jonathan Smith when he was at Washington, he is now at Oregon State. I just want to prove myself as a starter so they have a reason to come by and show interest in me.”
Are you going to any college camps this summer?
“I’m going to the USC Rising Stars Camp and a UCLA camp. I am also going to some Pac-12 camps at Redlands. I like the setup at the Redlands camps; everyone gets a shot to work regardless of age. I will go to as many of those as possible. I can throw for Washington, UCLA, and Oregon there.”
How is everything going in the classroom this semester?
“Great. I had a 4.0 last semester. We have finals next week. I have a 4.0 now. I am taking three honors classes next year to try to get my GPA up as high as possible.”
What is your favorite subject in school?
“My favorite subject… that depends. My freshman year it has been Biology. We are dissecting pigs. I have a really good Biology teacher. She engages us and makes us want to learn.”
Aside from football and working out, what are you doing for fun away from school and sports?
“I have a little brother, he keeps me entertained. We go outside to throw the ball or play with the dogs. My older brother goes to Cal, I spend time with him when I can. I also hang with my friends a lot. As football players, it is good to be as a group off the field. I also like to hang with all my friends that are not on the team and family.”
Do you have any fun summer plans lined up?
“I will hang out with friends – I think we are going to Six Flags and maybe Disney Land. Football can take a toll, going out and hanging with friends is a good break.”
Cooper, thanks for your time today and good luck with finals and all the upcoming camps.