Southern’s Pro Day set for Wednesday
Former Southern safety Omar Cook has had some catching up to do to register on the NFL’s radar.
His playing time was limited to cameo appearances on special teams during his first three seasons after beginning his Jaguars career as a walk-on.
But he had a breakout season as a senior last year when the Jaguars won the Southwestern Athletic Conference championship.
Cook has been trying to spread the word that he’s NFL-ready through rigorous training and clarifying that he has used up his college eligibility even though Southern listed him as a redshirt junior last season.
He hopes to take a major step forward Wednesday when he joins about a dozen other former Jaguars for Southern’s Pro Day workout in front of NFL scouts.
“With the numbers I put up last year, I think should have been on somebody’s radar,” Cook said Tuesday. “I’ve put up some pretty decent (workout) numbers in the offseason. Hopefully I’ll open some eyes (Wednesday).”
In his first season as a starter last year, Cook tied for third on the team with 77 total tackles, tied for the team lead with three interceptions, tied for second with four pass break-ups, tied for the team lead with two forced fumbles and recovered one fumble.
He took two weeks off at the end of the season, a period during which he received his diploma Dec. 13. Then it was back to work as Cook began two-a-day workouts at Velocity Sports in his native Irvine, Calif. He has bulked up to 205 pounds from 192.
Cook was not invited to the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, but at a recent regional workout at the practice facility of the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks he jumped 10 feet, 6 inches in the broad jump and 39.5 inches in the vertical jump, which was the second-highest among the 250-plus participants. His best 40-time (4.51 seconds) was less eye-opening.
“It was an interesting experience,” Cook said. “It was a pretty competitive environment and it opened my eyes to where I had to step my game up.
“That experience was helpful because it means I won’t go into (Wednesday’s workout) blindfolded. I’ve been through the drills before and now it’s just a matter of executing.”
Cook’s father, Grady Tucker, is an assistant coach with the Los Angeles KISS of the Arena Football League and has shepherded his son through his preparations.
Tucker said Cook has had workouts with four teams from the CFL and has others scheduled with a few more.
“The primary goal is the NFL; that’s the dream of any young man,” Tucker said. “But we’re keeping all options open and have multiple plans.”
Cook’s two-a-day training has included speed work with Gary Cablayan, whose clients include Washington Redskins wide receiver DeSean Jackson.
“My speed has gotten better, and I’ve gotten more explosive,” Cook said.
“I want to keep playing as long as I can. All I’m looking for is an opportunity in somebody’s camp. Once I get there, it’s all on me.”
Former Cook teammates who are expected to participate Wednesday are quarterback Dray Joseph, wide receivers Lee Doss and Thomas Jackson, offensive lineman Aaron Hall, defensive linemen Dion Palmer and Trae Tiller, linebackers Anthony Balancier and Franchot West, defensive back Johnathan Mack and defensive back/return specialist Virgil Williams.