Many of the the state’s elite defensive back prospects were on hand Saturday for the Nike The Opening Regionals camp in Houston and Texas Longhorns cornerback target Anthony Cook was the best of the best.
The only consensus five-star recruit in attendance, Cook quickly established himself as the alpha dog of the group, impressing the the warm-up drills with elite footwork and the most impressive change of direction out of his break.
Not much changed as things transitioned into the competition drills. Cook became the only defensive back to completely shut down four-star Alief Taylor receiver Brennan Eagles and finished his day without allowing a single pass to be caught and having snagged two interceptions.
5-star 2018 CB Anthony Cook ( @_ACook21 ) with the clamps! #LBlock pic.twitter.com/EM5kYECa0g— J.Hamilton (@JoeHamilton247) February 4, 2017
Anthony Cook (@_ACook21) with a nice squeeze before sagging into zone for the pick. pic.twitter.com/SKBGhMFgXc— SB Nation Recruiting (@SBNRecruiting) February 5, 2017
When it was all said and done, Cook was named the event’s Defensive MVP and became one of three prospects to receive an invitation to the Nike The Opening Finals in Oregon.
To say Cook proved he’s worth his top-20 ranking and deserving of every one of his 32 offers wouldn’t be an overstatement, nor would proclaiming a Houston Lamar secondary that also features four-star cornerback D’shawn Jamison as one of the best in the state.
“We still remain humble,” Cook said when asked if Lamar’s secondary was the best in Texas. “It’s always going to be somebody better than you and we just try to be the best in the nation. We ain’t worried about the state.”
As part of the process to become the best in the nation, iron is certainly sharpening iron in West Houston.
“In practice every day it’s like a camp,” Cook told Burnt Orange Nation of how he and Jamison push each other. “We’re competing every day. ‘Oh, you didn’t come out of your break fast enough, you ain’t open up quick enough.’”
For Cook, though, the goal is much bigger than simply being the best secondary in the state and the nation. He wants a ring before departing to the Power 5 program of his choosing.
“State! If we get past that third round; we fell short two times in a row.”
“I think just really not living in the moment,” Cook said of what Lamar needs to do differently next season. “We got to look past it. We get to the NRG and and we’re like ‘Man, we can’t believe we’re here.’ We get get caught in the moment. We have to start looking like we’re going to win state.”
While Cook’s humble focus remains on the team, the focus of college coaches around the nation are centered on the elite defensive back.
“It’s going real good,” Cook said of the recruiting process. “As of now, since [the class of] ‘17 signed and it’s focused on us, a lot of colleges have been really on me.”
Tom Herman and the Longhorns, who have been in constant contact with Cook since Herman took the job in Austin, are among the programs prioritizing the five-star corner, along with Ohio State, Notre Dame, Clemson, TCU and Alabama.
“I’m a priority,” Cook said of the importance Texas is placing on him. “They stress that to me every day. I talked to the DB coach [Jason Washington] and he’s just telling me that he really wants me to stay in state. He’s just saying that he’s going to coach me up to the T and if I’m good enough to get on the field [ahead of an experienced secondary] then so be it.”
The ‘Horns will have a huge opportunity to roll the burnt orange carpet out for Cook during junior day later this month, which will key to fighting off national powerhouses hoping to lure Cook out of state.
Cook said he's not sure about official visit dates just yet, but said he will visit Clemson and Ohio State.
At 6’1, 168 pounds, Cook ranks as the nation’s No. 18 player, the No. 2 cornerback and the No. 2 player in the state, per 247Sports Composite.