- Editor’s Note: There are two updates to this story at the bottom of the blog
Zerrick Cooper, a 4-star quarterback who is verbally committed to Clemson, caused an uproar on social media this weekend after he was spotted on Florida’s campus for “Friday Night Lights” football camp.
And the dual-threat quarterback from Jonesboro High School urges those not to read too much into it.
Cooper, who’s been off of social media since Friday, told the AJC that he only made the 650-mile journey to Florida’s campus to drop off Oconee County quarterback Zeb Noland, who was attending the camp. “We actually dropped another QB off and came back after that.”
Before he could leave Florida’s campus, Cooper says he ran into Florida defensive line coach Chris Rumph. The two had a brief conversation but Cooper maintains that it was “nothing serious.”
The Jonesboro product confirmed to the AJC that he is still “100 percent committed” to the Tigers.
Clemson fans can recall another time when a committed dual-threat quarterback took an under-the-radar visit elsewhere.
In July of 2013, former 5-star prized quarterback Deshaun Watson made a “secret visit” to Auburn while he was committed to Clemson. Watson admitted to the trip after being spotted in Auburn via social media, but nothing ever materialized. Watson is now the starting quarterback in Death Valley.
After this weekend’s fallout, Cooper confirmed to the AJC that he will not take any more visits.
UPDATE 1: A source close to Noland told the AJC on Sunday night that Zerrick Cooper did not take Zeb Noland to Florida. “I don’t know where that came from and I don’t want to get in the middle of it … but that is not true.”
UPDATE 2: Quincy Avery, who is Zerrick Cooper’s quarterback instructor, tried to clear up the confusion on late Sunday night. He told the AJC that he took two other quarterbacks to Florida’s “Friday Night Lights” camp and invited Cooper.
“I was like, ‘We are all heading up to Florida, come with us.’ Zerrick already mentioned, ‘You know I’m already committed to Clemson.’ I’m like, ‘I know, just come with us. We’re kicking it. All my quarterbacks are good friends.’ So, I brought him along with me.”
Avery said that a Florida staff member wanted to look at one of Avery’s other quarterbacks, who is committed to an FBS school located in the Southwest region — and because the kid is committed elsewhere, Avery asked that the kid’s name not be used.
“I thought (the other quarterback) would be a really good fit for Florida,” Avery said. “Zerrick came up with me, and we ended up meeting the staff as well. The one issue is that we did go into the stadium when we got there, but it wasn’t just about Zerrick. It was a group effort. (The Florida staffer) is really high on (the other quarterback), who didn’t end up getting to come, but that was the plan the whole time for (the other quarterback) to come and Zerrick to come with us. So, it was less about what they said.”
Did Cooper talk to Florida assistant Chris Rumph? “He did,” Avery said. “That is true. Nothing in-depth. Coach Rumph recruits in that area. It was just a regular conversation.”
What about other Florida coaches? “They were around but they weren’t in the conversations.”
Avery took responsibility for the confusion: “It was probably more my fault than Zerrick’s fault. He just went there hanging out with us. It was people going out and hanging out. That’s what the situation was.”
— By Chuck Kingsbury, Special to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution