Brandin Cooks recently signed a four year deal with the New Orleans Saints. His road to the NFL was definitely not an easy one. Cooks is one of the more colorful personalities in the 2014 rookie class. He made his way around numerous media channels and left a great impression on each of them. His high energy attitude transfers onto the field as well. It is said that adversity builds character. That couldn’t be more true in the case of Cooks.
The road to the NFL was not an easy one for Cooks or his family. They faced their share of adversity and they overcame it. The relationship that Cooks has with his mother was only strengthened by everything that they have gone through. Brandin is the baby in the family, so it is very special that he has been able to accomplish so much.
Cooks bought his mother a new Mercedes truck last month. He had it sitting in the garage as he walked her to it. He asked he what she thought and she told him that it’s a nice car. To her surprise, Brandin said; “Momma, it’s yours!” The emotion that came over both of them when he said that was touching.
We spoke to Brandin about what it meant to be able to do such a wonderful thing for his mother. Without hesitation, he said; “It was real emotional due to the fact that we had humble beginnings and what we had to go through, where we came from. For me to be able to give that to her, it meant the world to me. It’s better to give to her than to give to myself.”
He also wasted no time giving back to the community. Cooks was one of 30 NFL prospects to take part in an event called Play 60. He was fully engulfed in a game of flag football with the kids and had a great time going through field drills with them. Cooks truly enjoyed the experience.
“I wish I would have had this when I was a kid. I know how it is, when these kids come out, I’m in full effect, full attention. If I had the same opportunity when I was younger it would have meant the world to me so I want to give back just like others gave to me.”
Life wasn’t always easy for the Cooks family. He lost his father Worth Cooks Sr. when he was only six years old. Worth Sr. passed away from a heart attack in his wife’s arms in their Stockton, California home. Things got difficult from that point. Brandin’s mother, Andrea had to take on a second job to make ends meet.
Brandin is the youngest of four brothers. All of them where close to their father. The two oldest brothers are Fred and Worth Jr. They all knew that Brandin was destined for success. Andre Cooks is 23 years old and is the closest to Brandin. He is currently incarcerated and they haven’t seen each other face to face for over two years. He explained what the family saw in Brandin even at a young age.
“He was always the one with the most ambition, there was this Energizer bunny within him. He just kept indulging in his love of sports. He already had his mind made up that he was going to do it. Me and my other brothers, the three of us didn’t have any definite plans or a path. Brandin did. He was the one who was going to make it. We all recognized that, no matter what else was going on in the family, we recognized that he was the one who could get it right.”
The things that Brandin will now be able to do for his family are things that he didn’t understand why they couldn’t do once his father died. He talks about his upbringing being difficult.
“I would get jealous of other kids with dads: ‘What would it be like if I had a dad? How good could I be? Would our family be better?’ I used to get mad that we couldn’t do stuff — go shopping, go out to restaurants, go on vacations. I needed rides to school, but I was embarrassed for people to see how small our house was. One day, Fred sat me down and said the reasons we ate beans and bread so much, it’s because it’s all we could pay for. That’s when it hit me. ”
The NFL has been a goal of Brandin’s since he got to Oregon State. He wanted to set records there and prove himself to be the best receiver to ever come out of the school. Brandin wanted to put himself in a situation that if he wanted to leave in three years, he could do so. The motivation for him has always been what he could do for his family. He wanted to be able pass on his legacy to future members of the Cooks family. Another thing that he wanted to do was to show the other kids in Stockton that get distracted by gangs and drugs how they can make a different choice and seek a more productive life. Most importantly, he wanted to be able to tell his mother that she can quit working.
Brandin doesn’t hesitate to praise his mom for rising above the family struggles to raise him and his brothers. He appreciates all of the hard work that she did just to provide for her family. It’s that appreciation that drove him to give his mother the new Mercedes. That appreciation is what made him think of her when he was offered the opportunity to visit New York City for the NFL Draft. He said the best thing about being in New York was to be able to walk around the city with his mother. He was proud to get to show her things that she wasn’t exposed to before.
There have been some that doubt Brandin because of his smaller size. He makes up for size with his heart among other attributes. The struggles that he went through have forged a unique degree of maturity for him. It’s something that his position coach, Brent Brennan noticed during his freshman season.
“He has an uncommon maturity. As a freshman, we’d watch practice tape, and he was blowing everybody away because he was winning his one-on-one so much. And he was controlling the matchup, always positioning himself to go against Jordan Poyer, one of the best defensive backs in the country. I knew then he was different. Most true freshmen aren’t looking to line up and possibly get their (butt) kicked every time. But he loved that challenge.”
His competitive edge was really apparent when I heard a reporter ask him about whether or not he felt 2014 was a bad year to come out as a wide receiver because of the other high ranking receiver prospects. The look on his face said it all. The tone of his voice changed to a sharp tone that clearly had an edge to it. He felt that he is the best receiver in this class and that while he can’t speak on account of the others, he had zero concerns about where he falls among the other prospects.
That edge is something that is a must for a receiver that is 5-9 and 189 pounds. Bigger corners will try to press Cooks and he welcomes that challenge. He said that they can “pick their poison” by risking him beating the press coverage at the line of scrimmage with his elite quickness or play off coverage and give him a free release which will risk him running by them. Either way, he will be ready to take his game to the NFL and challenge for the Offensive Rookie of the Year Award.
Going to the New Orleans Saints is a perfect match for Cooks. They use a lot of the same concepts that he was able to execute while at Oregon State where he was the 2013 Biletnikoff award winner. In three seasons at Oregon State, he posted 226 receptions for 3,272 yards with 24 touchdowns, along with 61 carries for 340 yards (5.6 avg.). He says that a lot of the terminology is also the same so the transition to the NFL should be a smooth one.
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