Proviso East's Cooper picks Huskers

Updated: February 3, 2010, 4:13 PM ET
By Scott Powers | ESPNChicago.com

MAYWOOD, Ill. -- Ten minutes before Proviso East's Corey Cooper was set to announce his college decision Wednesday morning, programs were still calling his coach Aaron Peppers to see if there was any last shot at the prized safety.

Cooper
Scott PowersCorey Cooper wasn't comfortable with the coaching stability at Illinois.

Peppers listened, then let them down easily.

"You got to give them their last pitch," Cooper said jokingly.

Ten minutes later, Cooper put a Nebraska hat on his head and signed his letter of intent with the Cornhuskers at Proviso East High School in Maywood, Ill.

Cooper had been committed to Illinois since his sophomore year, but recently changed his mind when the Illini made coaching changes. Cooper had also considered Arizona and Notre Dame. All three schools did contact Cooper to attempt to sell him one final time Wednesday morning.

"[Telling Illinois], that was the toughest one," Cooper said. "They were the first to offer, they were the first school to recruit me. ... They made some coaching changes. I didn't base my decision on wins and losses. The stability of the school, I wasn't comfortable with.

"[Nebraska had] everything -- fans, coaching, academics, just the place of Lincoln. The place is great. There's no flaws to it. I felt comfortable."

If he could have done the process over again, Cooper said, he wouldn't have committed so early. The recruiting had especially gotten to Cooper in recent weeks as scouting services, media and college coaches were checking in on a daily basis to get the latest news.

"I've been wanting to get it over for a long time," Cooper said. "I can finally sleep."

In Cooper, Nebraska receives one of Illinois' top players. He did almost everything for the Pirates as he returned kicks, caught passes and intercepted passes at safety. He is expected to continue on at safety.

"Nebraska is getting a franchise player," Peppers said. "He's a program changer."

Proviso East defensive back Antoine Lewis also signed his letter of intent to Purdue on Wednesday. He had originally committed to Minnesota.

"Honestly, just to be 100 percent real, that [Minnesota] commitment was real premature and uneducated," Lewis said. "At Purdue, everything is going up."

Said Peppers: "He is fast, eager, a hard worker and definitely someone who is going to play early. He can cover fast receivers in space. That's what you want."

Scott Powers covers high school and college sports for ESPNChicago.com and can be reached at spowers@espnchicago.com.

Scott Powers is a general reporter for ESPNChicago.com. He is an award-winning journalist and has been reporting on preps, colleges and pros for publications throughout the Midwest since 1997.

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