The moves made by Oregon State wide receiver Brandin Cooks have been described as “freaky” by some football analysts. The 5-foot-10, 186-pound junior combines elusiveness, deceptive speed, and a pair of hands that are second to none in the college game.
On Saturday night at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, the Arizona State secondary will face a stiff challenge in keeping Cooks under wraps. He has emerged as the nation’s leading receiver this season, with 91 receptions, 1,344 yards and 149.3 yards-per-game. His 14 touchdowns rank just behind Davante Adams of Fresno State.
The Sun Devils, on the other hand, lead the Pac-12 in passing defense, allowing just 206.4 yards per game (19th in the country).
ASU head coach Todd Graham described the threat posed by Cooks during his Pac-12 teleconference. “He is the most explosive player in our conference because he can do so much,” said Graham. “He runs the ball on the speed sweep and is lethal on wide receiver screens and reverses. He also has been very effective in the intermediate passing game, and then he will burn you deep.”
Graham called Cooks “really special” on special teams, where he leads the Pac-12 with 176.6 all-purpose yards per game.
Despite his record-setting pace in 2013, Cooks has been somewhat stymied during his last two games, hauling in nine catches for 80 yards and one touchdown against Stanford and six balls for 88 yards and one TD vs. USC.
Last season, Cooks was one of 10 semi-finalists for the Biletnikoff Award given to the top receiver in the nation. He was also named as Pac-12 Conference honorable mention and combined with Markus Wheaton to be the first Oregon State receiving duo to exceed 1,000-yards since 2003. His 1,151 receiving yards ranked seventh for a single season at OSU.
As a true freshman in 2011, Cooks played in all 12 of the Beaver’s games. He tied for the team-lead with three touchdown catches and scored in back-to-back games against BYU and Washington State. Cooks added kick return responsibilities late in the season with an average of 22.4 yards per return.
As a senior at Lincoln High School in Stockton, Calif., Cooks had 66 receptions for 1,125 yards and 11 touchdowns, and ended up with 1,525 all-purpose yards. As a junior, he made 46 receptions for 783 yards and 10 touchdowns, and on defense had three interceptions. He posted 29 receptions for 600 yards and seven touchdowns as a sophomore.
Rivals listed Cooks as the 22nd best receiver in the nation at the conclusion of his prep career.