July 12, 2012

Chicago teammates impressed by Purdue

Chicago defensive ends Demetrius Cooper and Khairi Bailey - teammates at Julian High School - would like to continue playing together in college.

A potential destination is Purdue, particularly after the duo came away impressed with an unofficial visit to the West Lafayette campus on Thursday.

"Everything was pretty good," Cooper said. "It was better than my first time up there. My first time, I wasn't really interested, or anything like that, but this time, they showed me a lot.

"I'm a lot more interested now than before. It was really good. They've come a long way."

But a decision, from either, isn't likely to come soon. Cooper, a 6-foot-5, 220-pound speed end - who can also play standing up, he says - has about 10 offers, including from Purdue, Notre Dame, Michigan State and Iowa State. The bigger, more powerful Bailey, who is 6-3, 240, also has offers from the Boilermakers and Cyclones, along with five others.

(The shared offers are Purdue, Iowa State, Ball State, Toledo, Northern Illinois, Western Michigan and Western Kentucky).

"We want to play together (in college), but everything might not go right and we might have to separate," Cooper said. "That's what we want to do, we've been playing football together since third grade and we want to continue that legacy. But Khairi might feel better at one school and me at another and we might have to separate."

Cooper says he likes the Boilers. He had visited Purdue before, but admitted his interest level then was low, at best, but Thursday opened his eyes a bit. He was interested in hearing about academics, particularly how a degree will help after his football career is over.

"You can only play football for so many years, and when that's over with, you need something to fall back on," Cooper said. "It was point that they were giving me - this, this, this - to help life after football, and I wouldn't be out here struggling. That was really good, and I want something to fall back on after football. I know it won't last forever. … The things they were talking about made sense."

Cooper says he also likes what he's seen from the Purdue program, feeling it's on the rise. He noted that the Boilermakers had a highly ranked class in 2012 and feel they may be building another. That, he said, is intriguing.

Also the possibility of playing right away, which Purdue sold. But Cooper says, at his size, he might be best off to redshirt, too.

"I let them know that a little bit too," he said. "But they're really interested in me and want me to come to play there at Purdue.

"I look at their roster and see their graduating a couple players, and they're building. I look at their team right now, and their recruiting class, they're going to upset a couple teams this year. That's what it looks like."

Bailey was equally happy with his visit, but like his teammate isn't going to rush into a decision. He's planning an unofficial to Iowa State in a couple weeks, and will likely take his officials in the fall.

He's says Purdue is in line to get one of those, although a final list hasn't been solidified. Bailey says he'll do his best to narrow down his choices.

"I look at the coaching staff, and my position coach, the school, the school's size, the campus, where do they see me playing in a couple years - do they want me to get bigger and how much do they expect me to gain? - the little things," he said.

Cooper will start to pick schools for officials soon, as well, and he's got at least a few in mind.

"When everything first started, Michigan State was the first to offer me," he said, "and I said I'd take an official back there. And that's still in the back of my head. And I'm thinking about going back to Notre Dame. And Purdue, after what I saw today, they're going to be in the mix for an official visit. And other schools, we'll see what comes up.

"Right now, I'm still thinking about it with my parents. They want the best school for me."

Some of those officials, of course, could come with a teammate, as Cooper and Bailey have taken many of their visits together already. Whether that takes them to the same place to play next season remains to be seen.

"Some schools want us to come together, some schools have a different opinion about us coming," Bailey said. "We just are going to take our time to see what schools show us."





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