Cooper to play both baseball and football

Clearwater Central Catholic wide receiver Riley Cooper will attend the University of Florida, where he will play football and baseball for the Gators. Cooper is an outstanding student, who should be able to carry the load academically, while playing both sports.

(Riley Cooper profile)

"Riley just wants to go and be a college student-athlete," CCC Head Football Coach Mike Jalazo said. "He wants the opportunity to get an education and the family certainly wants that as well. I think that he's really looking forward to the whole college experience. He's a good person who will fit in well at Florida with what Coach Meyer is trying to do. He's a good fit. Besides, he knows that he'll have the opportunity to play in the future. You don't have his kind of talent, and I'm talking football and baseball, and not get a good look. He is just unbelievable."

Should a problem arise through injury, academics, or otherwise - Cooper would be a baseball first guy. That has already been cleared with Coach Urban Meyer, who as a former baseball and football player understands Cooper's mindset.

"Coach Meyer loves the potential Riley brings on punt and kickoff returns," Riley's father, Larry Cooper said. "He's 6-4, 210 and is a center fielder. Coach Meyer said that he loves the fact that he is a center fielder. He said that his experience catching those high balls is a big plus. Riley averaged 37 yards per punt return his junior year. He had the best averages in the state in both punt and kickoff return average then. He had six kickoff returns called back this year. I think he has had 15 or so called back in his career."

Cooper runs a blazing 6.28 sixty. He and fellow Florida signee Derrick Robinson are among the fastest baseball players in the country. All of that speed would certainly tempt major league teams to jump early for a player that possesses Cooper's blend of talent and athleticism to go along with it.

"It has already been unreal," Larry Cooper continued. "There were twenty-two scouts at a workout last Wednesday. The Yankees, Dodgers, Phillies, Braves, Astros were all out there. There have been many others. But, he's going to school."

"So, we have eliminated all home visits from (Major League Baseball) teams," Cooper continued. "Every major league team does the same thing - evaluating the player physically and psychologically and they all want to send out their people. We are declining it. We'll have one meeting with the pro baseball scouting director who will come into our home and he'll (Riley) have the physical and psychological test. One person can pass that information along to whoever requests it. They'll know all of those things as they follow him at Florida."

Southern Cal Coach Pete Carroll told the Cooper family that Riley is the best wide receiver he has seen since Mike Williams, another former Tampa Bay area product.

Cooper is still part of a fantastic core group of receivers from the area that includes Hillsborough High sensation Jarred Fayson and Jefferson High tight end Trent Pupello, who is one of the more physical players at the position.

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