Wilmer Cooks is not another Jimmy Brown or a Whizzer White or even a Hugh McElhenny. He is not exceptionally fast nor is he particularly vicious. But because Wilmer Cooks happens to be extremely difficult to tackle with a football under his arm he could become the best sophomore fullback in the Midwest since Jim Grabowski started for Illinois two seasons ago. "The key to just how good Wilmer will be remains within him," says Colorado Coach Eddie Crowder. "He's strong and agile and has a fine mind and an outstanding attitude. Now, if he just wants to sacrifice enough."
People around the University of Colorado will be surprised if Cooks does not "sacrifice enough" this fall, simply because that is what he always has done. An honor student at James Madison ( Dallas) High, Cooks won letters in basketball and track, as well as football. In his senior year he gained 1,345 yards in 12 games for an 8.3 rushing average and made All-State as both a fullback and a linebacker. During the summers while in high school Cooks worked for an airline company, loading and unloading planes, to help support his mother and sister. During the Christmas holidays last winter he earned $85 so he could buy them presents. "And he didn't spend a dime on himself," says Freshman Coach Dan Stavely, who knows Cooks better than anyone at Colorado. "Like a lot of other southern Negro kids Wilmer isn't really sure of himself yet," Stavely continues, "but give him just one good afternoon with the varsity this fall and he'll be a fullback the pros will love to have."
There are numerous good afternoons awaiting Wilmer Cooks during the next three years if he runs with the football the way he did for Colorado's freshman team in 1964. In the Baby Buffs' two games, Cooks, 6 feet 2 inches, 216 pounds, carried 42 times for 301 yards and was never tackled for a loss. Recently Freshman Coach Jim Bowman of the Air Force Academy said: "Our team played against two future All-Americas in 1964—Warren McVea of Houston and Wilmer Cooks of Colorado." Stavely sums up the Buffaloes' new fullback this way: "He's an outstanding prospect. I'm sure he has the motivation Eddie talks about to make a great player. He's certainly one of the best I've had in 25 years of coaching freshman football players."
Wilmer Cooks, however, is not the only outstanding sophomore to be found in the Midwest this year. Missouri may have one of the nation's finest ends in 6-foot 6-inch, 274-pound Russell Washington, who played single-wing tailback, wingback, blocking back and end on offense and tackle on defense at Southeast High in Kansas City, Mo.
And over at Champaign, Ill., they are already comparing 6-foot-2-inch, 215-pound Halfback Cyril Calvine (Callie) Pinder with J.C. Caroline. What does Pinder do best? Says Illinois Backfield Coach Buck McPhail: "He only runs for touchdowns."