One of the nation’s most electric pass catchers is now officially a member of the Texas Longhorns program, as DeSoto star Johntay Cook II has signed with Steve Sarkisian’s program on Early Signing Day.
A five-star talented ranked as the No. 35 overall player and No. 6 wide receiver, according to the 247Sports Composite ranking, Cook’s addition can’t be overstated, but Texas enjoyed pole position in his recruitment pretty much the entire time. While Cook tried to maintain as much drama as possible in his recruitment, the Longhorns clearly led throughout much if not all of it and were able to officially seal the deal in the immediate aftermath of Cook’s friend Arch Manning delivering his ground-shaking decision in late June.
Michigan and Oregon were the other two finalists for Cook and the Ducks did receive an official visit from the consensus five-star prospect. In a behind-the-scenes video of his commitment, Cook said he’d be heading to Eugene had he grown up anywhere but Texas, in part because Oregon was neck and neck with the Longhorns in building quality relationships with Cook.
But Cook is from Texas and the Horns did everything right in his recruitment, so he’ll be playing for his state on the front of his jersey and his family on the back.
So what are the Longhorns getting in Cook? Well, in his words, a Heisman, Biletnikoff-level talent.
“I’m a Sarkisian receiver,” Cook said. “Like, I’m a modern-day DeVonta Smith.”
At 6’0, 175 pounds, Cook is built similarly to Smith and to Texas standout Xavier Worthy, although his route-running ability is significantly more advanced than Smith at the same age, slotting much closer to Worthy, who was ready to make an impact as soon as he stepped on campus last summer.
A strong deep threat, Cook can separate with his releases and burst off the line of scrimmage while possessing the short-area quickness to win at the top of his routes. He’s a threat at every level of the field and has a knack for making opponents miss, another trait that compares favorably to Worthy.
With an excellent catch radius for his size, strong hands, and high-level body control, Cook is close to a complete wide receiver heading into the college level.
If there’s one question about Cook compared to Worthy, it’s the lack of verified speed. Cook is a two-sport athlete at DeSoto who competes in track and field — he’s a long jumper and a triple jumper who shows his explosiveness in those events yet isn’t a state-level contender in either — so he doesn’t have the clear 100-meter speed that Worthy did coming out of California last year or Evan Stewart did in the 2022 class.
In a full assessment of Cook’s skill set, however, it’s easy enough to overlook because he plays fast in pads and does everything else well — his speed is less a concern than an unknown in a camp or track setting.
Ultimately, Cook has a long history of competing at and winning at the highest levels of Texas high school football and profiles as the type of prospect with a high hit rate who should be ready to contribute in a significant way in the 2024 season when the depth chart opens up for him, and should be able to find some opportunities as early as next season.
Fresh off of a stellar season season that saw him haul in 81 catches for 1,366 yards ad 21 touchdowns, Cook capped his DeSoto career with a 6A state title.