High School Sports

Prep football: Atascadero’s Cooks commits to Nevada, A.G.’s May lands offer

Atascadero senior wide receiver Elijah Cooks (left) verbally committed to Nevada, while Arroyo Grande senior quarterback Sawyer May was offered by the University of New Hampshire.
Atascadero senior wide receiver Elijah Cooks (left) verbally committed to Nevada, while Arroyo Grande senior quarterback Sawyer May was offered by the University of New Hampshire. jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

Atascadero senior football standout Elijah Cooks got the first call from the University of Nevada late Monday night.

Newly installed head coach Jay Norvell wanted Cooks to come to Reno for an official visit. But the next day, before Cooks had a chance to plan the trip, Norvell called back. This time he had a full scholarship offer.

“I was shocked,” Cooks said.

Nevada was one of three schools to offer Cooks, the most highly sought after college football prospect in San Luis Obispo County. He also had standing offers from Wyoming and San Jose State. But Cooks was quick to accept Nevada’s offer Tuesday because he knows the school well. His cousin, Roosevelt Cooks, played for the Wolf Pack, and he has family in the area.

“I just knew it would be a great place,” Elijah Cooks said.

At 6-foot-5, 225 pounds with soft hands, Cooks was named the PAC 5 Offensive Back of the Year after a stellar season that saw the tight end/wide receiver grab 56 catches for 966 yards. He scored 15 total touchdowns in 10 games.

“I would like to thank the coaches and schools who have recruited me,” Cooks wrote on Twitter. “I’d also like to thank my family, friends, and coaches who stood by me during one of the toughest decisions in my life.”

Cooks, who in addition had interest from Fresno State and UNLV, also showed incredible elusiveness after the catch, as seen in the first clip of his highlight video, a 70-yard punt return for a touchdown.

Cooks set a school record for catches and yards with a 12-catch, 178-yard, two-touchdown performance against Stockdale in the third game of the 2016 season. He’s also pretty good at basketball.

Ultimately it was Central Coast native and Cabrillo High School grad Vai Taua who helped Cooks land at Nevada. Vai, the older brother of Toa Taua, a current standout at Lompoc, was recently added to Nevada’s coaching staff and made sure Norvell knew about Cooks.

Cooks said he’s already started to prepare for next year. His priorities are to add 10 more pounds to his athletic frame and improve his blocking skills.

Next season, Cooks will join a Wolf Pack team that finished 5-7 (4th place) in the FBS Mountain West Conference.

May finds a suitor

Arroyo Grande quarterback Sawyer May’s wait for an offer is finally over.

After a stellar high school career that included three years as the Eagles’ starting quarterback, May was not highly sought after, likely due to his size at 5-foot-11, 191 pounds — relatively small for a college quarterback — and a 5.05 40-yard dash time.

That changed this week after he announced he had received a scholarship offer from the University of New Hampshire.

“It was definitely a relief,” said May, who passed for 1,391 yards and 12 touchdowns his senior season.

May called the recruiting process “really, really long” and said he’s had to try and be patient. Over the past year, he has been to multiple recruiting camps, including stops at UC Davis and Fresno State

May was known for his accuracy during his time at A.G. In 648 career pass attempts, he was intercepted just eight times and completed 62 percent of his passes. May threw one interception and 20 touchdowns his junior season, which is when New Hampshire started recruiting him.

“They decided they weren’t going to offer a quarterback for a while. As the new year came around, they — I guess — decided they were going to,” May said.

May’s passing numbers dipped last season, but that’s because he turned himself into a dual threat. In 11 games, the PAC 5 MVP rushed for 767 yards and 13 touchdowns and had three 100-yard games. May rushed for just 98 yards in his junior and sophomore seasons combined.

May led his team to a PAC 5 title (10-2, 4-0 PAC 5) and a win in the first round of the Division 2 CIF-Southern Section playoffs over Westlake before getting hurt and missing the Eagles’ second-round game.

New Hampshire finished 8-5 last season (6-2 in the Colonial Athletic Association) and advanced to the second round of the FCS Playoffs, where they lost to eventual champion James Madison.

May said he hasn’t made a final decision and plans to visit University of Redlands in a week, but he added that New Hampshire is the front-runner.

“I want to go to the best school possible, but I also want to go to a football program where I felt like I can have an impact and where we were going to be successful,” May said.

Both can officially sign National Letters of Intent with schools between

Feb. 1 and April 1.

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