Today's featured player is another unheralded member of Joe Tiller's final recruiting class, but as a redshirt junior he could be a significant contributor at defensive end. At the time he was considered a risk because he wasn't as developed as other players. I think Cooks is a player we should take a risk on this year. He has been in the system for three years, so he should know the basics. He is obviously a hard worker, so is it really a big risk if he plays some as a reserve? Ultimately it is up to him deciding if he wants to put in the work necessary. It would definitely be a bold statement by Cooks if he earned playing time this year.
LaSalle Cooks - Jr. (RS)
Hometown: Orlando, FL (Pine Castle Christian Academy)
6'3", 267 pounds
2011 Projection: possible contributor at defensive end
LaSalle has yet to record a tackle according to Purdue's official statistics. I like a player like Cooks. He is a true athlete that is more than a football player. He could mesh well with Kawann Short at defensive tackle because both were members of state champion basketball teams in high school. LaSalle was also a standout track athlete. Amazingly, he was a member of his high school's 4x100 relay team. That means he is a defensive end with sprinter's speed, but enough strength to be a state finalist in shot put.
Cooks was one of our early 2008 recruits, as we beat out Maryland, Louisville, Wake Forest, and South Carolina. Since committing he has yet to play. That means there isn't a lot of other information out there. Sippin' On Purple in their jovial nature had him as a Name of the Week Candidate before the game in 2009. With an opening at defensive end Cooks could find some playing time this year. He's going to need to take a few risks in order to pass talents like Antwon Higgs, Ryan Russell, and Ryan Isaac.