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Arizona's eyes on Merced

Apparently Mike Stoops is a Merced football fan.

Two weeks after offering Merced junior Bernard Bolden a scholarship, the University of Arizona football coach is pursuing a couple of Bolden's teammates.

Arizona offered both junior tight end Kenny Cooper and junior defensive end Nathan Mayfield scholarships on Thursday.

"Maybe he'll take the whole school," Merced coach Rob Scheidt said.

"These guys have great highlights. It's an easy call."

At 6-foot-4 and 235 pounds, Cooper is one of the top blocking tight ends Scheidt has coached in his 12 years at Merced. His speed makes him a threat in the passing game as well.

Cooper has attracted interest from other Pac-10 schools, including Washington State and Arizona State.

The idea of playing with two of his teammates at Arizona is intriguing to Cooper.

"We've talked about it," he said. "If we all went to the same school it would be nice.

"We're not going to do anything right now. We'll wait and see what other offers are on the table."

Mayfield used his 6-foot-3, 200-pound frame and speed to finish with 53 tackles and 8 ½ sacks last season.

"What Nathan has that others don't is he's always going 100 miles per hour," Scheidt said. "Everyone talks about that high motor, and Nathan has it.

"He's a guy whose initial three steps are quicker than any defensive end in California or the western region."

Excitement doesn't begin to describe what Mayfield is feeling.

"I felt like screaming as soon as I got to class," he said. "I busted out in tears. It's a beautiful thing.

"I love it. I love football. It was a real shock."

Mayfield was shocked when schools started calling Scheidt about him.

"Other people knew before I did," Mayfield said. "They said they were in class when coach Scheidt was talking to them about me.

"I had to run over to his class to see if it was true. I was in the SBO office when USC called. I thought it was an April Fool's Day joke. It's crazy."

Merced running back Stephon Mathis also has drawn interest from several schools.

"We all speak to each other," Mayfield said. "We all know there will be more offers to come.

"I'm sure Bernard and Kenny will get more. I'm sure schools will want Stephon.

"For now, we all have smiles on our faces."

Shawn Jansen is a Sun-Star sports reporter. He can be reached at 385-2462 or via e-mail at sjansen@mercedsun-star.com.

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