Irish Archives: Deke Cooper

Cooper came to Notre Dame as a wide receiver, but quickly switched to safety where he quickly adapted as a freshman and became a part of the secondary rotation.

S-DEKE COOPER (1996-99)

• Ht./Wt.: 6-2, 220
• Hometown: Evansville, Ind.
• High School: Evansville North
• Head Coach: Lou Holtz, Bob Davie
• Position Coaches: Tom McMahon, Lou West
• Position Contemporaries: Jarvis Edison, Benny Guilbeaux, Deveron Harper, Tony Driver, A’Jani Sanders
• ND Career Stats: Cooper played 45 games in a Notre Dame uniform, starting 25. He had 203 tackles, six interceptions, four fumbles recovered, seven fumbles forced and a fumble return for a touchdown.

ND Football Accomplishments
• Known best for his fourth-down, goal-line tackle of Boston College running back Mike Cloud in Notre Dame’s 31-26 road victory in 1998. Cooper came off the right edge unblocked and buried Cloud for a two-year loss. It was the sixth victory in a row as part of an eight-game Irish winning streak.


• Caught a pass for nine yards in his second game as a freshman in ’96. He would move to free safety shortly thereafter, starting six games, making 29 tackles and intercepting three passes in his rookie season.
• The team’s third-leading tackler as a junior (1998) with 78. Named ABC/Chevrolet MVP in loss to Michigan State in which he finished with 16 tackles and a 96-yard fumble return for a touchdown.
• Finished fourth on the team as a senior (1999) with 70 tackles, two interceptions and a team-leading three fumbles forced. 

Did You Know…
…that he was born in Swainsboro, Ga., as John Delvicchio Cooper?

Pro Career
• Undrafted by the NFL in 2000, Cooper signed as a free agent with the Arizona Cardinals. He bounced around among the Browns, Panthers and Jaguars before playing in NFL Europe, where he was named a two-time all-NFL Europe performer, including 2002 league MVP.
• Played 73 NFL games, starting 37, from 2002-07. Played one year with Carolina (’02), three with Jacksonville (’03-05), one with San Francisco (’06) and one year back in Carolina (’06).
• Made 172 career tackles with six interceptions, including three in his final year in the NFL. Had one interception in each of his three years in Jacksonville.

Post-Football Career
• Founded Deke Cooper Youth Outreach Foundation in 2003.
• Owner of Future Leaders Christian Academy, a child-care center in Atlanta.
• Owner of Dennis-Cooper Investments in Atlanta.
• Cooper, now 38, married Gwendolyn Crisp in 2006. They are the parents of six children and reside in Atlanta.

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