Elite 11 Watch: Utah star Cooper Bateman
February, 23, 2012
By Christopher Parish | ESPN.com
Tom Hauck/ESPNHSCottonwood (Murray, Utah) junior signal-caller Cooper Bateman threw for 2,484 yards and 25 touchdowns this past fall.Throughout this offseason, we’ll spotlight Class of 2013 quarterbacks who have a shot at making the Elite 11 finals in July. This week we profile Cottonwood (Murray, Utah) signal-caller Cooper Bateman.
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Cottonwood (Murray, Utah) has another major recruit, and colleges are starting to take notice.
It’s a program that’s already produced plenty of pro and college talent on the gridiron, such as Philadelphia Eagles fullback Stanley Havili and Cal starting running back Isi Sofele. But the Colts might have their biggest recruit in program history in junior Cooper Bateman.
“He’s got strength, leadership and poise in the pocket,” said Cottonwood head coach Josh Lyman. “He’s really calm in the pocket, and his arm strength is off the charts for a high school kid.”
That arm strength is never more evident than in this YouTube video taken from this past season. Bateman’s Colts are trailing 38-35 with just seconds remaining, and a Hail Mary is the only hope for Cottonwood. But Bateman’s last-second heave was so strong that it sailed past the gathering defenders and into the hands of a streaking receiver, junior Sione Moli, who took it untouched to the end zone.
“They stopped running, because they didn’t think he could throw it that far,” Lyman said of the defense.
Bateman, who threw for 2,484 yards and 26 touchdowns as a junior, has already earned scholarship offers from major programs such as Arkansas, Auburn, Boise State and Florida as well as local programs like BYU, Utah and Utah State. He took some time to talk to us about his expectations for his senior season as well as his plans for the offseason, which he hopes includes the Elite 11.
ESPNHS: Tell us a little bit about how your junior season went down.
Bateman: It was OK. We finished 5-5 overall, but we lost in the first round of the playoffs. That was unfortunate. It’s something our program isn’t used to. We were playing in a different region, and we had our ups and downs. But next season we’re bringing back 10 of 11 starters on offense, so we’re excited about that.
ESPNHS: How do you feel you did individually?
Bateman: My preparation coming into the season was big. This is the year to get your name out there. It’s the films that these colleges will be seeing. I felt good going into the season, but the competition was a lot different. We were playing much better teams. Things didn’t go our way sometimes. But I felt this year my leadership skills improved tremendously. I felt like I was our go-to guy on the offensive side of the ball.
ESPNHS: What are some of the things you’ve pinpointed as areas of improvement entering your senior season?
Bateman: Accuracy is always a big one, and recognition of defenses and rotations. I’ve always been good at keeping my eyes down the field, but pre-snap recognitions are something I can do in the offseason as well. Just getting my reads down is important.
ESPNHS: You’re a popular recruit right now, and you’re getting a lot of attention. What’s on tap for you this offseason?
Bateman: I’m taking some trips down south and hitting up a few schools. I’m hoping to see Arkansas, Florida, Alabama, LSU and a few others. People are asking about what junior days I’ll be going to and stuff, and I’m not sure yet, but I’ll be at a few of them.
ESPNHS: And you’ll be participating in the Elite 11 competition, I assume?
Bateman: Oh man, that’s one of my main goals for this offseason. That’s what all of this preparation goes to.
ESPNHS: What makes the Elite 11 event so unique for you?
Bateman: It’s the best of the best. It’s the best quarterbacks in the nation. Surrounding yourself with those guys and that competition is unreal. It’s something a lot of guys shy away from, but I thrive in those situations.
ESPNHS: Obviously a lot of college programs are showing interest and the offers are flying in. What are some of the things you’re looking for as you start to narrow down your options?
Bateman: I need to sit down with my family and make a pros and cons list. We’ll have some specific things that we’re looking at that are important to me in my decision-making process. I can say right now that a lot of it comes down to life on campus. I want a good college atmosphere. This is where you’ll be spending four to five years of your life. It needs to be a nice place, and the coaches and players you’re surrounding yourself with is important, too.
School: Cottonwood (Murray, Utah)
2011 Team Record: 5-5 (lost in first round of Class 5A state playoffs)