On Oct. 4, 2014, Logan Cooke dressed out and went through pregame warmups just as he had the previous four games.
The true freshman was listed on the depth chart as Devon Bell‘s back-up at both punter and kickoff but the plan was for him to redshirt in 2014.
Those plans changed that day just before the opening kickoff against Texas A&M when Bell injured his groin and Cooke was forced into action.
“It was exciting when I found out right before we played,” Cooke said. “It was kind of good because I didn’t have a chance to get nervous. I had some guys that helped get me prepared for the game mentally because that was a new thing for me. I was glad for the opportunity.”
Mere moments after head coach Dan Mullen called his number, Cooke ran onto the field in front of 61,133 fans and millions watching on ESPN and boomed a 61-yard kickoff against the then sixth-ranked Aggies.
“I really didn’t notice a lot of the big atmosphere when I went out there for the first time,” Cooke said. “I was just hoping I’d hit a good ball and I ended up hitting a decent one. Once you get out there, it’s just like high school ball on the field. You don’t really notice all the extra stuff while you’re out there.”
Cooke went on to appear in the final nine games for the Bulldogs where he kicked off 54 times for a 61.7 yard average and 15 touchbacks. He also punted 10 times for a 41.4 yard average with a long of 51-yards.
As a former high school quarterback and wide receiver at Columbia Academy, Cooke also had a chance to throw a pass on a trick play against Auburn but it was intercepted.
“We’d been practicing it and I was pretty excited to run it because I really haven’t gotten to play football since high school,” Cooke said. “When we got out there, we probably should’ve checked out of it but we didn’t and it ended up being a bad deal.”
The 6-foot-5, 210-pounder also tried his hand at field goal kicking as well although his missed his only attempt from 42-yards out against Kentucky.
With Evan Sobiesk leaving the team to attend dental school, Cooke hasn’t closed the door completely on placekicking.
“It just depends on what coach wants,” Cooke said. “He asked me back before the Arkansas game if I really did want to kick field goals. My answer at the time was no because we had Evan and Westin (Graves). I’ll do punts and kickoffs but if the opportunity to kick field goals presents itself I will.”
Cooke handled all of the kicking duties in high school earning All-American status and was considered the No. 3 punter recruit in the country. He averaged 44.2 yards per punt, was 1-of-3 on field goals and 8-of-11 on extra points as well as booting 19 of his 22 kickoffs for touchbacks as a senior.
When he arrived in Starkville however, Cooke found it was much more complex kicking at the college level than just putting toe to leather.
“There’s a lot more that goes into special teams here than I thought,” Cooke said. “In high school, you just go out there and kick it. Here there’s a lot of assignments you have to know and also know what all the other people are doing on the field also.”
Cooke continues to compete with Bell as spring practice got underway this week. He is trying to get ready for his sophomore season so he will be ready again the next time his number is called.
“It’s just about getting my body mentally and physically prepared for next year,” Cooke said. “I’m not a freshman anymore so I have to play the role of an older player now.”