The long-standing pipeline connecting Wayne County to the Southeastern Conference added another talented defensive player on Wednesday as part of the 2020 signing class. Three-star defensive tackle Armondous Cooley signed his LOI (Letter of Intent) with Mississippi State football on Day No. 1 of the Early Signing Period inside the school’s library.
Cooley follows his own path to the SEC behind former Wayne County standouts Willie Evans, Jerrell Powe, Benito Jones, and Quentin Bivens.
“It feels amazing to get the opportunity to go play at the next level,” said Cooley. “It’s truly a blessing.”
The 6-4, 280-pounder is rated as the nation's No. 67 defensive tackle and the state of Mississippi's No. 23 overall player by 247Sports. Cooley joins the 2020 Mississippi State class that currently ranks 25th in the nation and 10th in the SEC. He was 19th signee for Mississippi State on Wednesday, in order from morning signees to afternoon signees.
"I've been committed to Mississippi State for eight months," Cooley said. "I felt like it was the best decision for my family and me regarding football and my education."
Cooley said it was the atmosphere at Mississippi State that helped his decision to be a Bulldog.
“It’s the atmosphere there,” said Cooley. “Everyone I know likes it there. My family does too, and I know they support my journey to Starkville.”
This past season, Cooley led Wayne County in total tackles with 84, and seven TFL (Tackles for Loss). He finished second in sacks with seven. Cooley impressed on-lookers last Saturday in the Mississippi/Alabama All-Star game with four tackles and was in on a TFL.
"Everyone knows he's a great athlete," said Wayne County head coach Shelton Gandy. "But better than that, he's a great kid. He has all the qualities to be successful. He works hard, and he's not a kid that is driven by outside motivation. What I mean by that is he's not a kid who coaches have to push his buttons. He pushes his own buttons, and that is the greatest motivation.
“I’ve coached a lot of guys, but I know he’s going to be successful.”
Things were not easy for Cooley early on in his high school career, the three-star admits.
“At the time (ninth and tenth grade), I hadn’t developed into my body yet,” said Cooley. “In 11th and 12th grade, that’s when I developed. I got stronger and started to dominate on the field.”
So what are the plans for Cooley at Mississippi State? He answered that on Wednesday, “I’ll most likely play a three-tech and one-tech on the defensive line.”
Following the ceremony at Wayne County, Cooley connected with Mississippi State head coach Joe Moorhead via FaceTime.
“You have an incredible work ethic,” said Moorhead to Cooley. “I see videos of you on Twitter, working on your pass rush and other things when no one’s forcing you too. And I know you’ll be a great kid on and off the field.”