CINCINNATI — Former University of Cincinnati safety Bryan Cook, a 2017 Mount Healthy graduate, was selected by the Kansas City Chiefs in the second round of the NFL Draft.
He is the highest drafted player in Mount Healthy history, according to former Mount Healthy coach Arvie Crouch.
"He deserves all this," said Crouch, who is now the Hamilton head coach. "He didn't have an easy way to go. He just locked in and put his head down."
A Reese's Senior Bowl invitee, Cook had a breakout senior campaign and was named a Pro Football Focus College Football Third Team All-America selection.
Cook earned 93 tackles, including 5.5 tackles for loss, with nine pass breakups. He intercepted a pass in the end zone at Indiana and had a pick against Alabama in the College Football Playoff semifinal at the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic.
Though he finished his career with his hometown team, Cook had an interesting journey from high school football to the highest level of the college game. He had just one scholarship offer from Howard University as a high school senior during the 2016 season.
"He didn't ever doubt himself," Crouch said. "He was a phenomenal talent."
Cook played cornerback at Howard for 21 games from 2017 to 2018. He decided to transfer to the University of Cincinnati but changed to the safety position.
“We are thrilled for Bryan and his family,” UC coach Luke Fickell said in a statement. “The Chiefs are getting a relentless competitor who will always put the team first. Bryan really embodied the selfless, team-first culture we want to instill in all of our players here at the University of Cincinnati. After Bryan transferred back home here, he had to sit out, battled a few small injuries and was behind a couple of other future NFL players. He kept working hard. He got better every year. When given his opportunity to start this season, he flourished and was really one of our defensive MVPs. I believe he’s just scratching the surface at what he can be, and he’ll be an outstanding pro.”
Cook is the first Bearcat drafted by the Chiefs since offensive lineman Parker Ehinger went in the fourth round (No. 105) in 2016.
Cook is the third Cincinnati safety selected in the last two years. He joins former teammates Darrick Forrest and James Wiggins, who were fifth and seventh round picks, respectively, in 2021.
His coaches said Cook's work ethic, passion for football and preparation for games set him apart from others.
"He's a grown-up playing college football," UC co-defensive coordinator Colin Hitschler said in December. "He works his butt off. He's in here every morning at 7:30 and stays until 6 p.m. every night. You can't ask for anything more from a senior leader on the team."
Cook graduated last spring with a degree in Digital Media Collaboration with a 3.6 grade-point average. He was named to the CoSIDA Academic All-America Second Team earlier this week.
"Bryan is just one of the most outstanding kids I've ever met in my life and ever coached and had the privilege of coaching," said Crouch. "He's just such a genuine human being."
Cook, a former Mount Healthy cornerback, is the third UC player selected in this year's NFL Draft.
The record for most Bearcats selected in a single draft is six in 2009 — a record that is expected to fall in 2022 after eight Bearcats were invited to the NFL Combine.