The Arizona Wildcats added another member of their 2016 recruiting class this weekend with 3-star safety Tristan Cooper, the 144th-ranked safety in the nation out of El Paso, Texas, checking in at 6-1 180lbs. I got a chance to speak with him after his commitment, where he walked me through his recruiting process and official visit.
"A lot of stress is off my shoulders," Cooper said about committing to Arizona this weekend. "I was like dang I have to take all these visits and see which school I like the most, but Arizona was my top choice in the beginning because it was closer, a lot closer and it's a great conference. I was worried about if I was going to like the coaches, like the players, the environment, but I actually loved it all. So it was kinda just the perfect fit."
Cooper had a few schools on his recruitment and had some official visits to take care of before National Signing Day.
"I knew I was going to take two visits next week and I think it was going to be Illinois and West Virginia," he explained. "I mean Purdue is there too, but if I were going Big Ten I would have wanted Illinois."
"And I'd rather go to Illinois and West Virginia just so I can see Big Ten and Big 12," Cooper continued. "But the thing is those are really far and really cold. I'm not saying we're not going to be playing in the cold at Arizona -- we have road games -- but to be cold all the time, I don't think I could do that."
Arizona got into his recruitment process fairly late, the second week of his Christmas break to be exact. "My coach told me to give him a list of ten schools I liked. So I hit up all the schools that are close like ASU, U of A, Texas Tech, I only had like three or four. Those are some of them because they're all close and in great conferences. ASU never messaged me, Texas Tech messaged me in the end. But U of A hit me up the same day my coaches called and that was great."
The staff had reached out to him just before the recruiting dead period. "When they hit me up they wanted to get me on an official visit and asked me what weekend because I had like three or four already scheduled so I had to rearrange a lot and ended up going this weekend," he told me about his communication with Arizona.
He was in Tucson this weekend for his official visit and it couldn't have gone any better.
"I loved the environment, but by far it was the players. I actually loved my hosts. I had Kwesi (Mashack) and Jarvis (McCall) and they were really cool. I love the defensive backs coach too, coach (Jahmile) Addae," when asked about his visit. "They just seemed so friendly and welcoming. Coach Addae brought me into his office when I first got there and told me if he had got the job a while back I would have already been a Wildcat before then."
The commitment that the Arizona staff showed to him meant a lot, especially coming from El Paso.
"I was just glad. Maybe like 90% of athletes out of El Paso really don't make it out," he said about his hometown. "They might go to UTEP or something, but Pac-12, Big 12, it's just a really big thing for us."
The staff didn't talk to him about where exactly he fits into the defense, but he has many options given the depth of the secondary.
"They're recruiting defensive backs heavily and they said you're most likely going to be playing because they're not so good on depth right now," he said when asked about his talks with the coaches. "So they said don't expect to get redshirted because most likely you're going to be playing if you work your butt off."
Most of the scheme talks will likely come on Tuesday, as he'll be getting an in-home visit. "We talked about safety, I mean all I know is safety. We didn't really go over schemes and all that but I know they're coming over on Tuesday, Rich Rod and Coach Yates are coming over so we'll probably go over it then," he told me.
Cooper says that Arizona has been one of his top schools even before they offered, citing the proximity to home and Pac-12 conference. He knew he was going to commit, just wasn't sure when exactly. But when he was with his host, he felt like the time was right. "I think it was freaking Kwesi. He just kept getting in my head. He was like 'Come on, bro. Come on, bro' but I was going to commit anyway because I really liked it," he said about his commitment. "Kwesi was bugging on me so I committed on Saturday night. But I knew I was going to commit eventually."
Getting out of El Paso is huge for Cooper. He was very excited to see Tucson and everything it had to offer.
"There's so much to do, even though it's not that big of a city, it's just a lot more to do than here in El Paso. Having me around -- the students, the gatherings, facilities, the players, the coaches -- I saw myself going there."
His highlights are below