HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - The University of Southern Miss lost one of its noble gentlemen Christmas morning.
Hamp Cook, a former standout football player, assistant coach and long-time professional scout, passed away at the age of 86.
Cook was an all-state linebacker in at Georgiana High School in Georgiana, Ala., where he was a captain for both the football and basketball teams.
Cook then attended Mississippi Southern College, where he lettered in football from 1952-54 and and went on to become Mr. Mississippi Southern College.
He helped MSC to a pair of Sun Bowl appearances and also was part of two victories over highly-ranked Southeastern Conference opponent, Alabama.
He earned 1954 Little All-America and NAIA All-America honors and played in the Senior Bowl.
In 1996, Cook was inducted into the Southern Miss Sports Hall of Fame in 1996 and the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame
He was later chosen as a member of the Southern Miss Team of the Century that was released in 2000.
Following his playing days, he started his coaching career as line coach at Moss Point High School in 1956 and then went on to become head coach of his alma mater, Georgiana High, where he put together a 20-8-2 record from 1957-60.
His next stop was as athletic director/head football coach at Opp (Ala.) High School from 1961-64, where he put together a 20-19-3 mark.
Cook then returned to Southern Miss where he served as an assistant coach under fellow Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame coaches Thad “Pie” Vann and P.W. “Bear” Underwood from 1967-72.
His final athletic career stop came as a professional scout, where he spent more than 20 years with the New Orleans Saints before working for the Philadelphia Eagles.
A frequent visitor in the Southern Miss football press box during his time as scout and then later during his retirement years, Cook always had a friendly smile and a hearty hand shake to extend to those also there to cover the Golden Eagle game.
That smile will certainly be missed.
Cook is survived by his three children, Tracey, Kyle and Chuck, nine grandchildren and two great grandchildren.