Cooper shows quickness, pass rush ability

Redshirt freshman defensive end shows what there are Shilique Calhoun comparisons being made to his game -- and Calhoun sees himself as a proud papa after Saturday's spring game.

Shilique Calhoun made a big splash last season at defensive end for Michigan State and there had been rumors that he would be a force for the Spartans in his first couple years.

Now, when coach Mark Dantonio looks at redshirt freshman Demetrius Cooper, he sees glimpses of Calhoun.

"Demetrius Cooper is a guy that is very athletic," he said. "He's gotten bigger. He's gotta sustain play in and play out. He can flash, no question, like Shilique did when he was a true freshman."

Calhoun had a good spring game Saturday, but could not deny he felt like a proud papa after seeing Cooper notch a sack, a quarterback hurry and a tackle for loss.

"I felt good out there (watching him)," Calhoun said. "I was little sad he had more sacks than me but I was happy he showed his ability, he showed what he had.

"He played at a high level and at a high motor."

The redshirt freshman has added more than 40 pounds to hi 6-foot-5 frame since he arrived on campus in East Lansing and despite the lack of weight, almost played a true freshman. He wound up electing to redshirt, so Saturday was his first chance to show Michigan State fans what he can do on the field.

Calhoun said Cooper's speed and quickness were on full display at Spartan Stadium – maybe a little bit too much as he had two offsides penalties.

"I think he showed a lot of people how quickly he can get off the ball and how he can use his hands," he said. "Being a young guy who is willing to step up and play a big time role, I feel like he showed the world he's ready.

"He's ready to come out and step on the field."

Defensive line coach Ron Burton pointed to Cooper's quickness as one of three strengths he brings to the defensive line for the Spartans. He also added pass rush and third-down ability to the group.

"I think that's where he'll have a chance to get on the field," Burton said. "He's got some more work to do, that's for sure."

It will take some improvement in his technique and ability to defend against the run, Burton said, which also is something Cooper has previously noted he has to work to strengthen his game.

"We know he has the ability to rush the pass, so we want to see him get off the block in run situations," Burton said. "He has showed that, but he's got to get consistent with it."

Calhoun expects that won't be a challenge for Cooper, who he said is a smart kid who has learned a lot on his own since arriving in East Lansing last summer.

At the same time, Calhoun knows he can help the younger player that draws comparisons to him.

"He does a great job at shooting his hands," he said. "I feel like if he keeps that separation, it will work out well for him even at his size. He does have the ability. Coming in, that's how he played, so it comes to him naturally.

"If he keeps moving his hands and moving his feet, nothing can stop him."


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