COLUMN: One of the most inspirational and devoted football players to play at Ole Miss is ready for a new chapter in his life.
Jason Cook, a former fullback under coaches David Cutcliffe, Ed Orgeron and current coach Houston Nutt, will be leaving Oxford Saturday for Birmingham, Ala., to start a three-year journey that will culminate with a Master of Divinity degree from Beeson Divinity School.
For Cook, who has served as the Ole Miss Football Chaplain and Huddle Coordinator for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes since 2009, the call to the ministry became clear to him while on a mission trip to Sorrento, Italy in March, 2010. Although Cook admitted he had strong feelings about being called to minister since he was 13, he had always run away from his inner feelings on the subject. That was until he climbed to the top of Hostel 7 at 6 in the morning, and looking out at the mountains that surround the city, experienced something he not ever felt.
“I felt God speak to me, clearer than he had before, when I was up there,” Cook said Wednesday as he continued preparations for leaving town. “FCA has always been close and dear to me. I love it, but I knew I was not going to be lifetime FCA person. I felt like doing more and God spoke to me to go minister.”
When Cook got back from Italy, he said he started investigating which schools would suit him. He said he went to California, Denver and Florida in search of a place that felt right. That’s when he found out about Beeson, which is located on the Samford University campus. The interdenominational divinity school offers a three-year course that includes 96 hours of study, something Cook called extensive and intensive.
“I’m ready for it, I’m really, really excited about it,” said Cook, who is going over a month early in order to get settled personally and to get connected with a new church home. “I have a heart for people. I would love to shepherd in some aspect even if that means being an associate minister.”
Leaving his mark
Cook hasn’t made a big deal of his next step in life. He didn’t seek the spotlight as a player and he hasn’t changed any during his time with the current Rebels. Always in the background, but always serving as a strong mentor, Cook has definitely left his mark on the football program and Oxford during his seven plus years in the community.
Shortly after deciding on Beeson, Cook said he told his family of his next move and then made sure to tell Nutt, a coach and man he has great respect for because of his strong faith in God. Cook said he had a good conversation with Nutt and that while he hated to see Cook leave the team, he was very supportive of his next step.
“Being a man of God himself, he was for me. He has been in my corner the whole way. I couldn’t ask for a coach to be any more supportive than he has been for me,” Cook said.
While Ole Miss may be directly losing one of the best individuals to ever be associated with the program, Cook was also quick to point out that Birmingham wasn’t too far away and that he would be back to visit from time to time. That’s another bit of good news to take away from the move and even more reason to be excited when he does return. (July 28, 2011, Page 8A)