Moving 1,200 miles away from home was hard for IU freshman Gary Cooper, who left Miami, Florida, for Bloomington this summer to start his college football career as a tight end.
“It was hard for the first week,” Cooper said. “To leave home like that.”
What made the transition easier for Cooper was coming to Bloomington with one of his high school teammates, defensive lineman Jeramy Passmore.
“He’s been helping me out getting adjusted to everything,” Cooper said.
Cooper and Passmore both played football together at Christopher Columbus High School in Miami, Florida.
Passmore committed to IU June 15, 2018. Four days later, Cooper did the same.
“We’ve been friends for a long time,” Passmore said. “He’s like a brother to me. Bringing him up here with me together, so it just feels like I’m still at home.”
Both Passmore and Cooper are two of six out of the 21 incoming freshmen to be recruited from a high school in Florida. In addition to the 2019 signees, 18 players on the IU roster also hail from Florida.
Passmore attributed the high amount of Florida recruits to how being in Indiana is a different experience many guys haven’t had before in Florida.
“It’s a really quiet, laid back kind of town,” Passmore said of Bloomington. “That’s kinda my personality, and I fell in love with the coaches and the area. Bloomington is really beautiful, and I kinda wanted to experience something new.”
When it comes to on-field productivity, both Hoosiers had impressive high school careers.
Cooper was selected to the 2018 Miami-Dade All-Star Game and was ranked as the No. 13 hybrid tight end nationally by ESPN.
As for Passmore, he racked up 57 tackles, 10 sacks and 13 tackles for loss his senior season and was also selected to the 2018 Miami-Dade All-Star Game.
Christopher Columbus reached the 2018 state championship in Cooper and Passmore’s final year.
Cooper said he likes how IU’s offense uses tight ends and that IU’s veteran tight ends have helped him get adjusted to the playbook.
“It’s a great offense,” Cooper said. “I see myself doing great things. I see myself catching a lot of touchdown passes, making a lot of yards this year.”
There’s a lot depth on the defensive line this season, so Passmore said he has used his hard work and vocal leadership to earn his playing time.
“I think I work really hard, and my work ethic rubs off on a lot of guys in different ways,” Passmore said.
Older players have helped teach patience along with the defensive schemes, Passmore said.
Passmore was ranked as the No. 64 strong-side defensive end nationally and said he should be starting off on the strong-side and work his way to the inside as the season progresses.
Speed and strength were both areas that Cooper and Passmore harped on improving with during the offseason to get ready for the bigger and faster game in college.
The former high school teammates will be rooming together in the fall. When talking about favorite memories with one another, the subject remained strictly on the football field.
“Having those great, tough games together and coming out on top,” Passmore said.
Cooper and Passmore look to bring their winning ways onto the field with IU when the season starts Aug. 31 against Ball State University in Lucas Oil Stadium.
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