Cooper's return gives Tigers a boost

CLEMSON - Senior tight end Sam Cooper gives Clemson's run game a much-needed boost.


Clemson tight end Sam Cooper has always been one of those players who does his best work "behind the scenes."

Hey may not blow you away with his number of catches or touchdowns, but he does just about everything else an offense could ask for. Whether its blocking, being a leader in the locker room or just serving as a physical presence at practice, Cooper has proven to be this year's version of Chad Deihl or Darrell Smith.

But the thing is, he's only played in one game.

After suffering a freakish injury in pregame warmups at Georgia, the senior was put on the shelf for the first five games of the season. He broke his fibula, a non-weight bearing bone in his leg and didn't get back on the field until last weekend against N.C. State.

Cooper said the time on the bench gave him great perspective for his senior season.

"It gives you more motivation to get back on the field. As each game went on it drove me to back sooner," he said. "They say things happen for a reason. You experience crazy highs playing football and sometimes it takes the lows to make you appreciate it all."

The senior's impact, of course, was felt right away.

Clemson was better at the point of attack and Cooper was instrumental in helping pave the way for more than 200 yards rushing for the first time this season. He was also named a team captain for the game- which was honor Cooper didn't take lightly.

"It was pretty emotional," he said. "I really appreciated Coach Swinney acknowledging the work I had put in (during rehab) to lead the team like that."

Cooper also can't wait for the second game of this senior season - this weekend against Louisville. The Cardinals enter Saturday's game in Clemson leading the country in total defense, run defense and third down conversion defense as well.

"I just can't wait," he said. "To have a defense of that caliber coming in here your own stadium. That's awesome. That's a great challenge. We are ready for it."

And he's also been told to take it easier in warm ups too.

"Yeah," he said with a laugh. "I gotta be careful in warm-ups."

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