Cooks preps for Hawaii Bowl, future

While his teammates weathered snow and temps in the 20s and 30s last week back in the Northwest, Oregon State’s Brandin Cooks soaked up the sun and plenty of adulation at The Home Depot College Football Awards at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Cooks won the 2013 Biletnikoff Award, given annually to the nation’s top receiver. He topped fellow finalists Sammy Watkins of Clemson and Mike Evans of Texas A&M for the honor.

As if the balmy climes of the Sunshine State weren’t enough, Cooks and the rest of the Oregon State Beavers are now preparing for a holiday visit to Hawaii. They’ll face the Boise State Broncos in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl, set to kickoff at 3 p.m. ET Tuesday in Honolulu. The game will be televised live on ESPN.

Throughout this season, Cooks’ accomplishments were overshadowed by the Beavers’ archrival, Oregon, ranked No. 10 nationally and regularly grabbing much of the spotlight. And though his percentage of his team’s receiving yards was higher, Cooks’ competition for the Biletnikoff earned a little more camera time, too, with flashy returns that sometimes carried an entire offense (Watkins) and highlight-reel receptions from a Heisman winner (Evans).

Spotlight or not, the Beavers’ top pass-catcher leads the nation in Division I receiving yards (1,670) and is second in receptions (120). All things considered, Cooks was asked after winning the Biletnikoff whether he felt the postseason – and being center stage on Christmas Eve in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl, the sole D-I bowl game on TV that day – means it is his time to shine.

“I wouldn’t say it’s just mine,” Cooks said of the Biletnikoff Award and the attention that goes with it. “It’s my teammates. I wouldn’t be here without such amazing guys, and my coaching staff and the supporting cast.”

Cooks, who enjoyed the Magic Kingdom with his family last week for the first time, added that this will be his first time taking in Hawaii – which might, as it turns out, be the stage for his final college football game. The talented junior will decide in the next month or so whether he will remain at Oregon State for his senior season or declare for May’s NFL Draft.

“My thing was to go in there and be the best player I could be, and obviously you want to break records at your school,” Cooks said. “And so far I think, if I remember correctly, I’ve probably already broken all the major records for receivers at our school. And I just wanted to be the most polished receiver before I go, so if that’s the decision I make, come January, then that’s the decision, and I just want to continue this career of football.”