Daijon “Wooptie” Calimon (Courtesy Photo)

With the transfer portal, the landscape of high school football recruitment has undoubtedly shifted. It has become increasingly challenging for high school athletes to secure recruitment spots as colleges now have a wider pool of talent to choose from. The transfer portal has increased competition, making it mandatory for high school athletes to consistently showcase their skills and stand out among their peers. Additionally, it has accelerated the recruitment process, requiring athletes to navigate the system strategically and efficiently to secure opportunities. Wide receiver Daijon “Wooptie” Calimon and running back Terrell “Choppa” Cooks Jr are one of the few examples of high school recruits who managed to maneuver throughout the tricky process and earn scholarship spots on Division I rosters. Cooks and Calimon will both continue their athletic and academic journeys at the University of Nevada Reno.

Cooks and Calimon have a long history of playing with each other dating back before they both started high school. The Nevada pledges started their division one journey together in the SYFL (Snoop Youth Football League) playing for the South Bay Gauchos/ Spartans out of Narbonne High School. In the SYFL they won two Super Bowls and two national championships, while playing against the top youth football programs from Georgia, Florida, Texas, Hawaii, etc. After competing together in the youth ball, the two took their talents to St. Bernards High School in Playa Del Rey.

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After their freshman five-game COVID-19 season, both Cooks and Calimon transferred out of St. Bernards. Cooks transferred to football powerhouse Sierra Canyon High School in Chatsworth, CA. Calimon stayed local, transferring to Leuzinger High School in Lawndale, CA.  Despite the two splitting up, they managed to have successful high school football careers and are mentioned among the top athletes in Southern California coming out of the 2024 class. They are both ranked as three-star recruits, according to 247 sports.

Both early in their high school careers the two standouts were committed to playing at Division I football programs. Calimon committed to the University of Colorado, Boulder at the end of his sophomore season in 2022 and Cooks committed to San Diego State University at the end of his junior season in 2023. With coaches changing jobs, moving on to new schools, and the transfer portal, this caused the two to back off of their early commitments.

Terrell “Choppa” Cooks Jr. (Courtesy Photo)

Cooks and Calimon did not let their de-commitments distract them from continuing to work hard and remain patient. Cooks finished strong during his senior season finishing with 1,722 yards, 13 touchdowns, and 485 receiving yards, averaging 9.7 yards per carry. Calimon also ended his senior season on a high note with 22 catches, 304 yards, 5 touchdowns, and 13.8 yards per catch.

Typically Cooks and Calimon would have signed their letter of intent in December and early enrolled in January, but the recruiting circuit has changed dramatically. Cooks committed and signed on April 11 and Calimon signed shortly after on April 17.

Cooks is excited to pursue his dream of playing Division I football with his former youth teammate.

“When playing with a former teammate there is a mutual understanding because we have known each other for a long time,” Cooks said. “We have a deep trust and chemistry understanding each other’s moves and knowing how to react to each other. Plus, it is fun to see how we have both grown as athletes since our early days.”

Cooks is also excited to compete against the best of the best at the next level.

“It is exciting to play at the next level because it means all of my hard work is finally paying off. The competition, the atmosphere, and the chance to show off my skills in front of thousands of people is what I have been waiting for.”

Calimon shared meaningful advice to all high school athletes going through the recruiting process.

“The advice I have for athletes in the recruiting process is to never stop working because with the portal now it is hard to get recruited, but all it takes is one coach,” Calimon said. “ I am an example. Always be patient and don’t get too happy when a coach is telling you everything you want to hear because all business is not good business.”

Cooks and Calimon leave for Reno in early July to get ready for their upcoming freshman season with the Wolfpack.