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June 15, 2013

Gridiron Ready?





Levi Cook has already made his mark on the basketball court at Liberty-Raleigh High School, committing to West Virginia before his sophomore season and earning first-team Class AA all-state honors while putting in a nightly double-double.

But this summer, the rising junior will be trying his hand at a different sport all-together: football.

Cook played the sport throughout middle school days, but after turning his ankle he decided to literally hang up his cleats for the more-comfortable sneakers that accompany the hardwood.

But his uncles, especially David Cook who Levi considers a mentor, kept playfully ribbing him about exploring the gridiron once again.

"He would joke me with me about how only real men play football and then he'd tell me that I could be pretty good. Eventually he got me aggravated enough to play," he said.

When Cook first approached the coaching staff at Liberty it wasn't something they hadn't heard before. For the past two seasons Cook has told the coaching staff that he was interested in playing football in the fall. But each time, he elected not to.

Even this time with Cook very serious about the proposition, he has his doubts that the staff believes he is taking it serious this time although they have shown some excitement about adding him to the team.

Finding a possible position for a 6-foot-11, 295-pound specimen can be quite the challenge, but Cook already has an idea where he could play this fall.

"I'd like to be a quarterback but I don't see me out there. I'm like a baby Geno (Smith). I got a real accurate arm," he said.

More realistically, Cook expects to serve as a tight end, linebacker or defensive end, and the thought of watching a physically-imposing giant parade the middle of the field and tackle ball-carriers is a scene that very well could become a reality. Especially because Cook believes that the basketball court has helped him not only stay in shape, but sharpen his footwork.

Linebacker was the position he manned during his younger days, but the game eventually became boring for Cook. The increased level of competition, along with a new challenge has sparked the competitive drive in Cook that led him to post around 26-points and 15 rebounds per game last season.

Cook has told a lot of people about his desire to pursue the football field this fall, but one person he hasn't talked with could surprise you.

"I haven't brought it up with coach (Bob) Huggins yet. I think I'm making a visit there this weekend and I'm sure I'll bring it up," he said. "I'm interested to see what he says honestly."

The center prospect also will participate in AAU basketball this summer playing for the Wildcat Select team, which will begin traveling to various tournaments in early July. The season will wrap up towards the end of July, but he expects to participate in various camps until around mid-August, which obviously will cut into his time on the football field.

"The coaches told me to come to as many football practices as I can. I don't want to miss practice but basketball is first," he said.

Cook plans to enjoy the rest of his summer either by busying himself with athletics or enjoying a day on the river fishing. One area of his on-the-court game he wants to improve his post moves going to the middle, as well as continuing to shape his body and get in better shape before his season begins this winter. His goal is to lead his team to a state championship.

But this fall under Friday Night Lights, Cook already has planned out what his routine will be the first time he makes a play on the field and who it will be intended for.

"I'm going to point at my uncle David and flex at him to let him know I got it," he said.


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