EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – When Jeremiah Cooper left Andress High School for Iowa State in 2022, he did it as a three-star recruit without much fanfare outside of El Paso.
A little over a year later, the Cyclones’ sophomore safety is turning heads all over the Big 12 and around the nation. His tendency for making big plays in high school has followed him to the collegiate ranks.
Cooper started the majority of the 2022 season for Iowa State as a true freshman and played well, making 32 total tackles, but he’s really come into his own early in the 2023 campaign.
His three interceptions are the most in Division I FBS football through the first three weeks of the season. That tally includes a pick-six vs. Northern Iowa in week one, Cooper’s first collegiate touchdown. He was named the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week for week one, as well.
“It’s all studying. Studying is part of the game, so you study the tendencies of the offense and then you play your part to a T. That’s what it’s about,” Cooper said after recording another pick vs. rival Iowa in week two.
Cooper leads the nation in interceptions early in the year, but his advanced stats have been off the charts, too. According to Pro Football Focus, Cooper has 91.2 coverage snaps, with zero touchdowns allowed and a 5.3 passer rating allowed.
He’s turned into a leader among his teammates as one of the more experienced players on the Cyclones defense, since he started as a true freshman.
“It’s just the work ethic. We put the work in in the offseason, me and my teammates and eventually it’ll show and that’s what you’re seeing right now,” Cooper said.
With Iowa State set to host Ohio on Saturday morning at 10 a.m. MT in Ames – the game will air on ESPNU – Cooper’s head coach at Iowa State said his rise early this season is something they saw when he was at Andress High School.
For folks in the Sun City that saw him play, they can certainly relate.
“If you look at even his high school career and what kind of football player he really was in high school, he was a guy that we felt was going to be really special,” Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell said.
If Cooper keeps playing like he has to start the season for the Cyclones, El Paso could have its next NFL player on its hands.