Arlington (Texas) Martin four-star defensive end Ernest “R.J.” Cooper included Ohio State in his top five on Thursday evening alongside Notre Dame, Oregon, Stanford and Texas A&M.
The 6-foot-4 and 235-pound Cooper – who is considered the ninth-best strong side defensive end and No. 195 prospect overall in the class of 2022 – recorded 63 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, seven sacks, one pass breakup, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery during his junior season, which ended with a loss to Buckeyes five-star quarterback commit Quinn Ewers and Southlake (Texas) Carroll in the regional semifinals of the state playoffs.
Cooper landed an offer from Ohio State during a phone call with head coach Ryan Day and defensive line coach Larry Johnson last May. He’s never been to campus but plans to visit once the dead period comes to an end.
Academics are expected to play a significant role in Cooper’s eventual college decision, which is why the Cardinal are viewed as the favorite in his recruitment. A decision isn’t expected anytime soon, though, so the Buckeyes certainly have time to show him what they can offer on and off the field.
That said, Ohio State is still looking for its first commitment along the defensive line for the current recruiting cycle, but Johnson has put himself in a good spot with several of the nation’s top-rated defensive ends.
That includes Cooper; Philadelphia Imhotep Charter five-star Enai White; Duncanville, Texas, four-star Omari Abor; Hollywood (Fla.) Chaminade-Madonna four-star Kenyatta Jackson; Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) American Heritage four-star Marvin Jones; and Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy three-star end Jihaad Campbell, among others.
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