Signee Update: Jonathan Cooper

After a near perfect ending to his senior football season, North Carolina signee Jonathan Cooper has continued to find success in two other sports – wrestling and track.

Cooper, a 6-foot-3, 290-pound offensive lineman, helped Wilmington (N.C.) Hoggard to an undefeated season that concluded with a NCHSAA 4A State Title. Following the season, Cooper was named to the Associated Press' All-State team and was selected to represent North Carolina in the Shrine Bowl.

Despite spending the early parts of the wrestling season on the football field, Cooper ended his senior wrestling season with a 12-1 record and a third place finish in the NCHSAA 4A heavyweight division. His lone loss came to Clemson pledge Tyler Shatley, who placed second.

At Saturday's regional track meet, Cooper placed third in the shot put with a 47-foot throw. The finish grants him a berth in the NCHSAA State Track Meet this weekend.

"I've been throwing 48 [foot throws], but then during spring break I didn't really practice so then I got down to 40-45 [foot] range. I actually threw a 47 [foot throw] at the meet [Saturday] and one full week of practice I think I can improve greatly," Cooper said. "I'm positive I'll improve."

After Saturday, Cooper's focus will solely be on his college career at UNC.

The UNC coaching staff has informed Cooper that he could see playing time this fall.

"The main reason people get red-shirted is to get bigger and stronger. They said I'm pretty much the right size and strong enough for it," Cooper said. "It's just a matter of being smart enough to learn the stuff."

For several months now, Cooper was told by UNC coaches that he'd come in as a center. There's now a lot of talk of Cooper playing guard, his high school position.

"Now they're saying they have an opening at left guard – I believe. But they said I'll probably play center before I leave [UNC]," Cooper said. "But I've been working on [snapping] a lot, so either way I'll be alright."

In preparation for snapping, Cooper has been serving as the steady center during Hoggard's spring passing workouts. Most of his snaps, though, have been shotgun.

"I've been getting a bunch of reps," Cooper said. "It's actually kind of fun. I'm getting good at it [and] getting consistent."

In his limited spare time between track practice and snapping, Cooper has been following UNC's workout regimen.

"I'm struggling with getting that running in, really," Cooper said. "I'm having a tough time doing it. I'd like to say so, but I don't know how much progress I've made. I guess I'll have to see once I have someone pushing me to do it."

The workout has assisted Cooper in trimming down to 290 pounds. He played last fall at 305.

"I actually just want to stay under 300 [pounds], so they can put the weight on me the right way," Cooper said. "I know that if I come in over 300 it will probably be sloppy."

Cooper, who says he has cleared the NCAA Clearinghouse, is set to arrive on campus on June 16th.

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