HS Coach Comments on Cooper

Chester Flowers, head coach at Melrose High School in Memphis, Tennessee, knows greatness when he sees it. Unfortunately for Flowers and his Golden Wildcats they will have to say good-bye to Graig Cooper ande the greatness that helped lead them to a Division 1 Class 4A state runner-up this past season.

Coach Flowers is confident that the University of Miami signee Cooper, the player he described as, "the best player I have ever coached" will be able to continue his greatness at the next level for the Hurricanes.

Despite being targeted by opposing defenses, Cooper, the Division 1 Class 4A Back of the Year was still able to dominate the competition.

"I think he had a great season considering everyone stacked their defense to stop him. Graig rushed for more yards than last year. His name was out there and everyone knew who he was and yet they could not shut him down. He was very effective," Flowers said.

Weeks and days before signing day other schools were aggressively coming after Cooper.

"Other schools were coming hard but he stayed faithful with his commitment. After signing we faxed it out about 7 a.m. and I gave him a hug," Flowers said.

Signing day brought mixed emotions for Flowers.

"It was bitter sweet. In your heart you never want to see him move on, but at the same time you know great things lay ahead of him. Graig is just the type of athlete that impacted you so you get choked up when you think about him not being around next year. Graig did things that I have never seen another football player do on a football field. He meant a lot to this program. I am happy for him and his family and I know he will do more great things at the University of Miami," Flowers said.

In the classroom, locker room, or on the football field, Graig set a great example for his teammates to follow.

"Graig always led by example. Sometimes I had to get on him about being more vocal but he led with his work ethic, passion, and, action, not a lot with his mouth. He is verbally reserved and never a stranger to hard work," Flowers said.

Coach Flowers expects Canes fans to be happy with what they get from Cooper on the field.

"He is the total package, wrapped up in one. He is shifty and can make people miss, he has good straight away speed and he is stronger than he looks. Late in the season when other backs were breaking down he was always going forward carrying guys for more yards. He dished out punishment when most people thought he was only a finesse back. He gave us good, tough, hard, running inside the tackles," Flowers said.

On the field Graig's vision gives him an advantage over the competition.

"Graig's vision allows him to see things that average players don't see. It gives him great awareness to set defenders up and change direction," Flowers said.

Coach Flowers does not foresee Cooper to be an individual that will attract negative attention to himself or the program.

"His humbleness, the way he carries himself has star quality written all over him. He doesn't try and draw attention to himself, but on Friday night when the lights come on he is a beast. His attitude towards life is that there are no short cuts to greatness. Graig has great character, an impeccable attitude, and he is a model student athlete. Graig is very well polished and not focused on individual accolades," Flowers said.

The Hurricanes sudden coaching changes had little effect on Graig's commitment to attend the University of Miami. "I don't think it had an impact. Head coach did what he thought was best and ultimately he holds the trump card. Graig committed to Coker and not another coach. Graig committed to play for Miami and not an assistant coach," Flowers said.

Cooper still has some work to do before suiting up for the Canes.

"I think every high school athlete has to adjust to the speed and strength at the next level. He will do well because he has not yet stopped working since season end. Graig is in the weight room everyday. He knows what he is up against. The competition is the best in the world. I can guarantee you he is not taking it lightly. He needs to put on weight to play at the next level and mentally he will need to make adjustment as well as anyone" Flowers said.

In Coach Flowers opinion there is no one individual running back that he could compare to Graig Cooper.

"Graig is a combo of Reggie Bush and Gale Sayers. I call him the human highlight film. But I wouldn't just be able to compare him to just one guy. You would have to blend several guys together to make a Graig Cooper. He has many different attributes that make him a special player," Flowers said.

Flowers feels in years to come that greatness is definitely in the cards for Graig.

"I see Graig being a good NFL running back for somebody. I like to think the highest level is within the realm of possibility for Graig," Flowers said.

With a great high school career behind him at Melrose it is now time to see if Graig Cooper's greatness will translate into a great career with the University of Miami. Based on what his former coach had to tell us, there is reason for Canes fans to be optimistic about Graig Cooper's future with the University of Miami.

Canes Time Top Stories