Tristan Cooper was clearly the best player on his high school team and he knew right away that college would be more difficult.
“When I first got here, it was complicated,” Cooper said. “In high school, you just go out there and play football. Here, it is a way bigger level. When they first gave me the playbook, Addae really worked with me.
“I didn’t know what was going on, it was in one ear and out the other. He was giving me so much information that I didn’t know how to handle it. Eventually I caught on, but it is very fast paced and I wasn’t ready for it.”
Cooper admits that the experience gave him somewhat of a reality check.
“It humbles you,” he said. “Everybody needs to be humbled, so being able to come out and be against the top athletes is a great experience, but it also motivates you to do a lot better.
“I need to be that much better to play. It’s not disappointing or lowering your self esteem, it just makes you work harder.”
The most difficult part of Cooper’s transition has been the time needed to be a college football player.
“When I first heard about camp, I was told I would never be going back to the dorm,” he said. “Everything I would do would be football and it was very hard for the most part, but you adjust and adapt to it. It was hard in the beginning, but I am used to it and my body has adapted.
“That was the biggest difficulty. Not being able to go back and sleep and rest because if you’re not practicing, your lifting, if you’re not lifting, you’re studying.”
Cooper has played strictly one position so far and enjoys how the defense has been playing throughout camp.
“It’s aggressive,” Cooper said. “I am playing Spur and there is a lot of aggression there. We’re usually down on the line, maybe blitzing, but I know you will see a lot of aggression. That’s a big reason why I came here. As a defender, I love being able to be aggressive.”
With BYU coming fast, Cooper feels he could be in line for playing time.
“I expect to play,” he said. “I don’t know if it is a lot, but I expect to play a little bit at least. I used to have the whole schedule as my lock screen in my phone to motivate me and I count down. It’s going to be a great experience.”