The wait is over.
Record-breaking Butte High quarterback Dallas Cook made it official Wednesday morning when he signed a letter of intent to play football for North Dakota State College of Science, ending months of speculation regarding where the star player would land for college.
“I think this is the best choice for me because I’ll get to play next year,” Cook said Wednesday morning at Butte High, where he signed the papers with his parents and younger brother, Dylan, at the table. “This is the quickest way of getting to my goal of playing in the NFL.”
As the starting Bulldog quarterback for only two seasons, the 6-foot-5, 235-pounder rewrote Butte High’s record books and put his name at or near the top of most significant Montana state high school quarterback records. He led Butte High to a state Class AA grid title in 2012, his junior season, where he was named league MVP.
Cook again put up huge numbers his senior season, though he played in two fewer games and spent a good part of the season playing on an injured foot. His ample time spent in the training room this season helped solidify his course of study after high school – athletic training.
Other schools showed interest in the quarterback, including Washington State and the University of Oregon, both of which offered preferred walk-on status. Montana State also showed interest, though Bobcat head coach Rob Ash recently made the decision to stick with the four quarterbacks already on his roster. Cook had been accepted academically at both Montana State and Washington State.
In the end, however, playing time and finances helped solidify the decision to play at a junior college.
“We can’t afford $40,000 to watch him play catch for a year,” Scott said. “That’s not feasible on our budget. This gives Dallas a chance to build his skills on the field.”
The Wildcats run a high-power offense similar to Butte High’s, and sent along a red No. 16 jersey – the same number Cook wore at Butte High.
“He’s their guy” at quarterback, Scott said. “He’ll be playing next year, elevating his game. A lot if it was who could get him on the field the soonest so he doesn’t lose those skills.”
Cook said he might attend NDSCS for as little as a semester, depending on his SAT scores and his options beyond at a four-year school. Cook’s former teammate Nick Butorovich played last year at NDSCS before transferring to play at Iowa Western.
Cook moved to Butte from Anaconda with his family before his sophomore season. Dallas’s father said the Mining City has been a good fit for his family.
“Butte opened her arms to us and we fell in your lap,” he said.
Scott, who is from the Philadelphia area, played defensive line at the University of North Carolina before leaving early to take a shot at the NFL during the 1987 strike. He joined the Dallas Cowboys, and then moved to the team’s practice squad after the strike ended.
“I went for it,” the Cook patriarch said. “I wanted a chance to touch that ring.”
Scott and Michele met when she left her home in Deer Lodge to work as a nanny back east. The two fell in love and spent 10 years in Pennsylvania, where Dallas and younger brother Dylan were born. They spent nine years in Deer Lodge where Devon was born, put in a year in Anaconda and then came to Butte.
Scott Cook said he was very pleased to have Arie Grey coaching his sons.
“I’ve been coaching my kids all their life,” he said. “There’s nothing like sitting back and watching them practice (with another coach) and feeling so comfortable. Arie has been awesome.”
The Cooks were Butte High’s most visible – and vocal – fans over the past couple of years, though they’ll have to rethink their attendance at their kids’ football games. Michele has been the family videographer, recording all the boys’ games while Scott handles the vocal end in the bleachers. With Dallas in North Dakota, Dylan at Butte High and Devon at Whittier Elementary, Scott and Michele may have to part ways on weekends.
“I don’t want to shortchange anyone because we’ve got all three sons playing football,” Scott said. “We might have to get Grandma in the mix.”
Michele said she would likely hold down the fort at home while her husband travels to watch Dallas play, in the event of conflicting schedules. Otherwise, she will watch all the games she can.
“Dallas is very excited. He made the best decision for his future, and we’ll be in the stands for him,” she said, adding that she was pleased the decision had been made. “This is just a weight off his shoulders. He seems very happy.”
Grey, who looks forward to having Dylan Cook step in for his older brother, said he was proud of Dallas and his progression toward his goals.
“This is a great fit for Dallas,” Grey said, as he watched the signing. “This is another opportunity for him and he’s taken advantage of every opportunity he’s had.”
Dallas’s father showed great pride in his son and the road he’s chosen.
“It’s good to hear them say Dallas is their guy,” Scott said. “There are 100,000 roads from here to get him where he wants to be. Dallas’s talent and determination will take him as far as he wants to go in life.”