CNJ staff photo: Tony Bullocks Muleshoe’s Cooper Washington, right, was the All-South Plains Class 2A defensive player of the year. He also passed for 2,348 yards and 30 touchdowns while leading the Mules to a 9-2 record.
Muleshoe’s Cooper Washington called an audible Wednesday, opting to sign a national letter of intent with Texas Tech.
Washington, a 6-foot-4, 225-pound defensive end and quarterback at Muleshoe, orally committed to play at Oklahoma in the spring.
“I had second thoughts about fitting in at OU,” said Washington, who started at defensive end as a sophomore on the Mules’ 2008 state title team. “It’ll ease my mind being closer to home and closer to family. Lubbock is only an hour away and I think I can live more of a normal life there.”
Fate played a role in Washington’s change of heart.
Washington said he was going through a drawer at home when he came across on Texas Tech recruiting letter that read in part: “We need you to bring Muleshoe magic to Texas Tech. Stay at home and become a West Texas legend.” It was the only recruiting letter of the hundreds he received in that one drawer.
“It just so happens on my mirror was a Post-it note with (Texas Tech assistant coach) Sonny Cumbie’s number on it. I called him and he said they had a spot for him.”
Washington said he hadn’t talked with Cumbie for a year and a half.
That was Monday. Except for his family, a few friends and his coach, Washington kept it a secret until a signing ceremony at the school that include “Boomer Sooner signs banners.”
“The coaches at Texas Tech told me to keep it a secret.,” Washington said. “I didn’t want the media to find out. Then coaches from around the country would start calling.”
Washington, who had 68 tackles, including 15 for losses, five sacks, two forced fumbles and an interception return for a touchdown, was the All-South Plains Class 2A defensive player of the year. He also passed for 2,348 yards and 30 touchdowns while leading the Mules to a 9-2 record.
Texas Tech signed 21 players Wednesday, including five defensive lineman. It was the first day high school seniors could sign a national letter of intent, which are binding.
On Texas Tech’s website, Red Raiders coach had this to say about Washington:
“A very athletic player who runs great and plays with a great motor. He is a long and rangy defender that will fit in well with our scheme.”
Muleshoe coach David Wood said recruiters liked Washington’s growth potential, speed to size ratio and versatility.
“With his athleticism, he has a chance to be big time,” Wood said. “He can play a lot of different positions.”
Texas Tech finished 8-5 this season, including a 45-38 win over Northwestern in the TicketCity Bowl.
Washington is Muleshoe’s second Division I signee in Wood’s 15 seasons at the school.
Matt Turney, a 2002 graduate, was an all-conference lineman at North Texas.
Also on Wednesday, Mules offensive lineman Sergio Montejano signed with Division II West Texas A&M.