ABINGDON, Va. — For Abingdon senior Major Cook, football is a step toward an ambitious goal.
“I want to contribute to society and try to make the world a better place,” Cook said. “I love football, but I realize that academics should come first.”
Cook, who has crafted a perfect 4.0 grade point average, has already drawn interest from Ivy League schools such as Yale and Princeton.
After earning first-team All-Mountain 7 status last season, the 6-foot-3, 302-pound offensive lineman was invited to camps at Davidson, Appalachian State and Princeton.
The visit to the historic Princeton campus in New Jersey left a lasting impression.
“Yes, that was intense,” Cook said. “I saw a lot of dedicated students, and I could tell that competition was important there.”
Cook knows something about competition.
After working at the two guard spots the past three years, Cook was moved to the coveted left tackle position this season to fill the vacancy left by Gage Bassham. The 6-5, 295-pound Bassham transferred to Lord Botetourt after sharing offensive lineman of the year honors in the Mountain 7 last season as a junior.
Bassham, who plays for former AHS football star Jamie Harless at LB, recently committed to Liberty University after considering offers from Marshall, Old Dominion and East Tennessee State University.
“Gage is like a brother to me,” Cook said. “We played together for years, and I wish him the best.”
So how did Cook feel about the move to left tackle?
“I was very happy with it,” Cook said. “It’s definitely a big responsibility, but I prepared all summer and in preseason practice.”
Through the first three games, the Falcons have averaged 273 total yards. Seniors Dylan Hale (6-2, 250) and Spencer Buddington (6-4, 219) also returned to starting roles on the AHS offensive line while junior running back Martin Lucas added size and strength.
“It’s really cool having a guy like Martin in the backfield,” Cook said. “Martin is super strong, and it’s crazy how much he has grown and developed. He goes hard in the weight room, and that carries over to the field.”
According to AHS head coach Garrett Amburgey, Cook's intellect also translates over to football.
“It’s great to have a guy like Major on the team,” Amburgey said. “He’s a tremendous student and excellent human being.”
While Cook is not a big talker, he does qualify as a leader.
“We’re talking about a humble kid who does everything the right way, right down to the smallest detail,” Amburgey said. “Some college football program will get a steal in Major.”
Cook takes pride in his footwork and power. He’s far from satisfied, however.
“By going to camps and starting this season, I have a huge opportunity to get my name out there,” said Cook, whose younger brother Bishop is a sophomore defensive back. “I have to keep improving.”
As of now, Cook favors political science as a major. He’s eager for more mental stimulation on a college campus.
“That’s always been the goal,” Cook said. “I enjoy learning, and I want to make an impact in life.”