Cooksey, Stamps deserve a look on recruiting front

Published 11:39 am Thursday, October 6, 2011

Cameron Cooksey continues to rewrite the passing records in the county with his own ink. He’s even ranked as one of the top passers in the country on maxpreps.com.

His performance last Friday in a 42-40 loss to Northwest Rankin was one for the ages. He threw for a county-record 569 yards, a mind-boggling number corrected from 535 after a Cooksey lateral was ruled a forward pass upon further review. He gave the struggling Gators (2-4) a chance to beat one of the state’s best.

This season, he’s thrown for 2,004 yards and 24 touchdowns in six games and is just 348 yards from equaling last year’s 11-game total.

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But the senior quarterback is still not gaining any traction on the recruiting front. Hinds Community College and Alcorn State want him, but that’s the end of the list of suitors.

Why is that? He’s already posted a qualifying score on his ACT. He’s a multi-sport athlete who is a leader any time he steps on the field or on the court.

And he’s the real deal at quarterback.

Standing at a prototypical 6-foot-2, he’s an ideal pocket passer with a strong arm that he sometimes trusts too much. He can make all of the throws with accuracy and has a quick release. While he’s not the most mobile of quarterbacks, with that kind of arm, he really doesn’t need to be.

The most surprised person is his coach, Alonzo Stevens.

“I just don’t understand it,” Stevens said. “Maybe it’ll pan out later, but it’s frustrating for someone like Cam who has done everything academically and athletically that you could ask from a young man.”

Great quarterbacks don’t exactly grow on trees. And there’s no doubt that Cooksey is a great quarterback. One could insult him by calling him a “system” quarterback in Vicksburg’s pass-happy scheme, but the Gators have built their scheme around their best playmakers, Cooksey and his wide receivers, and not the other way around.

While his 5-23 record as a starter isn’t the best, Vicksburg hasn’t fielded much of a defense in the past three years and the Gators are forever playing catch-up against the state’s best teams like Tylertown and Northwest Rankin.

But the mood isn’t all grim for Vicksburg’s stars.

Recruiters are finally catching up with Cooksey’s favorite target, wide receiver A.J. Stamps. Those are the only folks who are catching him these days. Last week, he caught a county-best 19 passes for 285 yards and has 49 catches for 890 yards and 13 touchdowns this season.

Stamps has received offers from Alcorn State, Louisiana Tech and Louisiana-Lafayette, all spread-formation teams that need wide receivers like scurvy-suffering sailors need vitamin C. And more are looking at him. It’s taken nearly half the year for any real movement for Stamps on the recruiting front.

Like Cooksey, he’s the real deal, a 6-foot-1 playmaker who is the complete package with great hands, excellent speed in the open field and great leaping ability. But the best thing about Stamps is that he is a big-game performer. When the lights are brightest, he shines.

So are the best and brightest at Vicksburg, because of the team’s subpar record, destined to bloom in obscurity?

Hopefully both of them get a chance to play on Saturdays. It’s an opportunity both talented young men richly deserve.

Steve Wilson is sports editor of The Vicksburg Post. You can follow him on Twitter at vpsportseditor. He can be reached at 601-636-4545, ext. 142 or at swilson@vicksburgpost.com.