NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The recent Vanderbilt football signing class, regarded among the program's best ever, got stronger Monday with the addition of one of the nation's top kicking specialists.
Colby Cooke, a 2011 Parade All-American recipient from Goochland (Va.) High School, will join the Vanderbilt program for the 2012 season, Commodore Head Coach James Franklin announced today.
Cooke, listed as a three-star prospect and one of the nation's top 10 senior kickers by Rivals.com, becomes the 22nd Vanderbilt signee. The 2012 Commodore recruiting class achieved its highest ranking in nearly two decades, with Rivals.com giving every signee an evaluation of three stars or more.
"We're tremendously pleased to add Colby to the 2012 signing class," Franklin said. "He really impressed our coaching staff at camp last year, then put together an excellent senior season. We're also excited about Colby's dual talents as a kicker and punter."
As a senior, the 6-3, 200-lb. Cooke also earned first team All-State as Goochland went 14-1 and advanced to the Virginia Division 2 state finals. Cooke made 17 of 21 field goals in 2011, the second highest single-season total by a Virginia prep kicker. He demonstrated excellent range, making field goals from 48 and 51 yards in the state finals. Forty of Cooke's 54 kickoffs also resulted in touchbacks.
Cooke also played on the USA squad at the 2012 International Bowl, held on Feb. 1 in Austin, Texas.
"Colby possesses all the abilities you'd want in a punter/kicker. He has the technique and size to compete right away," Goochland head coach Joe Fowler said. "Colby kicked off the ground as a senior. That 51-yarder he made in the championship game would have been successful in the college game."
Cooke will be one of four kicking specialists for the Commodores next year. The team also returns senior kicker Ryan Fowler, senior punter Richard Kent and sophomore kicker Carey Spear.
Senior captain... Named Parade All-American PK as senior... Three-year starting placekicker for middle Virginia public school... As senior, converted 17 of 21 field goals... 17 field goals is second highest single-season total by Virginia prep kicker... Helped Bulldogs to 14-1 record and Division 2 state finals where he made field goals of 48 and playoff-record 51 yards... 40 of 54 kickoffs resulted in touchbacks... Earned All-State and All-Region honors... On National Signing Day, expected to play for USA team in International Bowl, held in Austin, Texas... Earned two soccer letters... Vice president of National Honor Society chapter.
Colby Neal Cooke... Son of Jeff Cooke and Donna Coffey... Born July 20, 1994... Born and raised near Richmond... Dad is sales manager... Has a younger sister, Marley... Stepfather (Mark) played collegiate soccer... Enjoys snowboarding and playing computer games.
GOOCHLAND HEAD COACH JOE FOWLER
"We used Colby exclusively as a kicker because we also had an outstanding punter (Purdue commit Thomas Meadows) in same class. Those two have been pushing each other for years, but Colby can definitely punt and should be in the mix at that position as well.
"Colby is a young man that possesses all the abilities you'd want in a punter/kicker. He has the technique and size to compete right away.
"Colby kicked off the ground as a senior. That 51-yarder he made in the championship would have been successful in the college game."