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Anez Cooper: From Three Star Recruit to Outland Trophy Player of the Week



When it comes to offensive line evaluations and development, there may not be a better duo in the nation than Mario Cristobal and Alex Mirabal. The latest example of that is Miami Hurricanes’ offensive lineman Anez Cooper. The big-bodied guard out of Alabama has gone from a last second addition and the lowest ranked player in the Canes’ 2022 recruiting class, to a dominant player most recently named the Outland Trophy National Player of the Week. 

Coming out of Pleasant Grove High School in Alabama, Anez Cooper was ranked as the 149th best interior offensive lineman in the 2022 class and was well outside the top 1,000 overall. That didn’t deter the Miami Hurricanes staff from trusting their evaluations and extending an offer to Cooper on January 21st, less than two weeks prior to signing day. Miami got Cooper to take an official visit a week later on January 28th and just five days later he committed and signed on National Signing Day.

Cooper arrived in Coral Gables at 6’6 and nearly 400lbs, but quickly began to slim down after getting on campus. The Miami staff fell in love with Cooper’s size, strength and mean streak that made him the definition of a trench bully. As Cooper shed weight, he was able to increase his speed and athleticism while maintaining his strength and power. This led to increased playing time throughout his freshman season. After seeing limited playing time early in the season, Cooper started four of the final games and quickly flashed as one of the top players on an offensive line that struggled throughout the year.

Following his encouraging freshman year, Cooper spent the offseason continuing to improve his conditioning and dropping nearly 50lbs while working with Mario Cristobal and Alex Mirabal. At 6’6-350lbs, the sophomore guard looked poised to take a big step forward and was impressive all through camp. While many people expected Cooper to be a solid starter in the interior of the Canes’ offensive line, not many people predicted him to be as dominant as he has been the past two games. 

In week one matchup against Miami of Ohio, Anez Cooper opened huge holes in the running game all night. On Mark Fletcher’s first career touchdown run, Cooper pulled all the way around from his right guard spot and cleared out a path for the true freshman to take off for a 26- yard score. Cooper followed up his week one performance with an even more dominant game against a Texas A&M defensive front loaded with big time talent. The Canes’ guard shut down the Texas A&M interior lineman and was arguably the most physically imposing player on either side of the ball. Cooper played a major role in Tyler Van Dyke having a clean pocket to operate in all afternoon and was consistently getting downfield to block in the screen and run game.

Shortly after Miami’s 48-33 win over the Aggies, the individual awards began to roll in. Cooper was one of four Canes named as the ACC Player of the Week in their positions. In addition to being the ACC Offensive Lineman of the Week, Cooper was also named the Outland Trophy National Player of the Week. This award is given to the top offensive lineman in the entire country. 

In roughly 17 months, Anez Cooper went from an afterthought for many in the recruiting industry to being named the top offensive lineman in the country. This is a testament to not only the hard work of Cooper, but also the trust that Mario Cristobal and his staff have in their evaluations and ability to develop players. While coaches love to say they don’t pay attention to rankings, they’re very aware of them and many would’ve shied away from taking a player ranked as low as Cooper. When it comes to offensive line recruiting and development, there’s not many coaches, if any, that I would trust more than the duo of Mario Cristobal and Alex Mirabal

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