Steele wide receiver Jalen Cooper explains why he chose to commit to SMU

The 4-star wide recruit chose the Mustangs over offers from Texas A&M, Baylor, and Kansas

CIBOLO, Texas – Deciding where to go to college is always an interesting journey for high school students, but when the decision can also impact your chances of making the National Football League, the decision is monumental.

For Byron P. Steele High School wide receiver Jalen Cooper, his decision to commit to playing football at Southern Methodist University (SMU) was not only because of the athletic opportunities he’ll have in Dallas but also because of the way the coaching staff separated themselves from other schools by personalizing his campus visit.

“Whenever I went to the visit, Coach Rhett, Coach Jenkins, Coach Likens, they all pulled me in the office, and they watched my film, you know, which was pretty cool. I’ve never seen this film that they had on me, and just seeing it was like, dang, they really look deep into what I gotta show,” said Jalen.

With recruiters nationwide wanting Jalen to commit to their respective schools, Jalen was strategic when choosing SMU over schools like Texas A&M, Baylor, Kansas State, and Kansas. It’s not only important to fit into his new program, but the competition that he would be playing against is just as important.

Now that SMU has joined the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), the decision to go up against some of the best schools on the East Coast was a no-brainer for Jalen to get national coverage during his games.

“I looked at SMU’s schedule this year, and they’re playing Miami, Florida State, Duke, Cal. You know, those are all good teams,” said Jalen. “The SEC (Southeastern Conference) is great and everything, but the ACC’s just as good, and I feel like if I wanna be out there, it’s the perfect place to be. The coaching staff is going to be there for a while. I feel they can develop me to the best I can be, and I feel like I have the best shot of going to the NFL there.”

Jalen will have this upcoming season at Steele to help his fellow Knights make another deep run in the Texas high school football playoffs before heading up to Dallas to begin his college career in the fall of 2025.

Read more reporting and watch highlights and full games on the Big Game Coverage page.

About the Author

Nick Mantas is a KSAT 12 Sports Editor. He has previously worked in Lansing, San Fransisco and Abilene. Nick earned a Master's Degree in Sports Media from Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism and a Bachelor's degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Arizona, where he also interned as a strength and conditioning coach.

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