Cook missed last season with a knee injury and his leadership and competitive attitude were missed by the Cats. Now Hopewell, one of his best friends on the team, will no longer be able to play because he risks permanent injury because of a series of concussions he's suffered the last three years.
"It was a devastating blow to me as a friend and teammate when I found out,"
Cook said. "We both approach football and life with the same mentality. That's
where we drew our strongest bond from. It's unfortunate such tough things
happen to such great people."
Cook said while Hopewell might not play but 15 to 20 plays per game on special
teams, his attitude and all-out effort are irreplaceable.
"You can't put a price tag on somebody like him because he is priceless for
our football team. His approach to the game is something you can't replace.
His passion and positive energy that he brings every play will really be
missed," Cook said.
Still, Cook thinks the Cats are going to be better this year than most
skeptics believe and a big reason is the overall team attitude.
"As a team, we have grown both mentally and physically through the spring and
summer. It's been great to see so many of our young kids grown and mature. The
strength coaches and position coaches have really pushed us to get better, and
we have," Cook said.
Cook says so many young players could not help being timid at times last year
because playing in the SEC can be an overwhelming experience. "A year of
experience will help them come out of their shell," Cook said. "We just have
to be very, very crisp in everything we do to make our offense run smoothly
this year. If we do, then I truly believe that we are going to surprise a lot
VAUGHT: Hopewell 's absence will be felt
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