Xavier Cooper to CF.C: 'This feels so good'

BEFORE HE EVEN played a down at Washington State, then-redshirting defensive lineman Xavier Cooper told CF.C that he was going to play in NFL. Friday evening, the 6-3, 296-pounder took a major step to fulfilling his dream when he was drafted by the Cleveland Browns in the third round. The Tacoma native was the No. 96 overall pick. He talks to CF.C about the Browns, the Cougars and more.

“This feels so good man,” Cooper said. “When I got the call, I almost didn’t even believe it. I was talking with my agent and he said I might go in the second round or maybe in the early third round.

“Then it started really clocking down and I wasn’t sure what was going to happen. I thought to myself that someone had to come out and pull the trigger and I’m really thankful and blessed that Cleveland did.”

He is the highest-drafted Cougar defensive lineman since Leon Bender (Raiders) and Dorian Boose (Jets) went 31st and 56th, respectively, in 1998 and the first WSU DL drafted since Rien Long (Titans) in 2004.

“The Cleveland coaches said they needed me,” Cooper said. “They want me to come in and be a playmaker and they think I can make an immediate impact on the defense. I know I’m talking fast man, but this is crazy for me.

“This is a blessing not only for me, but my family and my city. There are only five players in the NFL out of Tacoma. Marcus Trufant, Desmond Trufant, Lawyer Milloy, Scott Crichton and now myself. This is for Tacoma and I’m ready to put my city on my back.”

He's also ready to put on a show for the crimson faithful, he added.

“Oh man, everything I do out on the field is for Washington State University and the state of Washington. Teams slept on me in this draft like they slept on WSU. I was almost the last pick in the third round and the top three rounds are when the best players come out.

“I’m ready to show that I’m a great football player and that Washington State University puts out elite football players.”

Cooper, who finished 2014 with 37 tackles, five sacks and four quarterback hurries, put on a show at the NFL Combine earlier this spring. The in-state standout ran a mind-numbing 4.83 40-yard dash, which drew praise from media members and scouts from all over the country.

To get Cooper with the 96th pick, the Browns traded three lower picks to the Patriots for the Pats' 96th and 219th.

In an interview with CF.C in early March, Cooper said despite receiving some criticism for leaving WSU with a year of eligibility remaining, he knew it was best for his future to enter the draft this season.

“People always ask me if I always had this dream,” Cooper said. “I didn’t really have it until my redshirt-freshman year at Wazzu. I got out there and I realized I could compete with the best players in the conference.

“My father has always told me that if you’re going to do something, you do your best. I told myself I wanted to go to the NFL and my experience at WSU really helped me get to where I am now. That’s why my decision to leave was so difficult. I have so many great relationships with the guys and coaches. This was the best move for my family, though, and in due time, I’m going to realize I made the right call.”

And now that he’s been selected by Cleveland, there’s no doubt he now knows he made the right decision.

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