Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

Bulldogs’ cornerback Cooper opts for Eastern New Mexico

Jabby Cooper

Among the metro-area prep football players who are going to sign national letters of intent starting on Wednesday, Jabby Cooper was perhaps the most conflicted.

The Albuquerque High senior was one of the more recruited football players last year, and had earned offers to play at New Mexico Highlands, Western New Mexico and Eastern New Mexico.

But … it wasn’t so clear cut.

“It was a very tough decision,” said the Bulldogs standout cornerback, who on Wednesday is going to sign a national letter to play football for Eastern, and returning Greyhounds head coach Kelley Lee. “Because baseball has always been my No. 1 sport.”

Cooper is an outstanding center fielder for the Bulldogs, and said he hopes to perhaps also play baseball in Portales. Prep baseball practices around New Mexico began Monday.

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“We’re hoping to reach out to the coach and see if we can either walk on or get an offer,” the 5-foot-11, 185-pound Cooper said, adding that Lee, who is now in his second stint as Eastern’s coach, was a key part of his selecting Eastern.

“It was a big selling point,” Cooper said. “I know he’s a good coach and I just love the program and it sold me.”

Eastern’s local signing haul won’t be limited to just Cooper.

Los Lunas’ Kaden Bell, who was probably New Mexico’s premier placekicker last fall, is also signing with the Greyhounds, as is Sandia lineman Franklin Finch (6-4, 280), plus twins Zebadiah (5-9, 150) and Zedekiah Thompson (6-0, 155) from West Mesa. Zedekiah plays cornerback, Zebadiah safety.

A third Mustang, speedy slot receiver Chris Johnson, is going to sign with 2021 JC national champion New Mexico Military Institute in Roswell. Volcano Vista linebacker Nathan Wallin also is bound for Roswell to play for NMMI, and it is possible several other Hawks may follow suit.

Cooper, meanwhile, is not the only AHS football player signing Wednesday; 6-1, 175-pound wide receiver Andrew Roybal is signing with New Mexico Highlands.

Cibola tight end Brayden Mummert on Monday announced he was going to sign with Fort Lewis College in Durango. La Cueva offensive lineman Gray Smith also will sign with Fort Lewis.

La Cueva safety Colt Mangino has accepted a preferred walkon offer from New Mexico State.

GRADE: Among the higher profile signings from other sports is Albuquerque High midfielder Shane Pierson, who is headed to Europe to join the UDA Football Academy and the University of Gloucestershire in England.

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