It’s officially signing day and plenty of Michigan State prospects have already faxed in their letters of intent this morning.
We’ve got plenty of coverage with our capsules on the expected members of this class, a story on Dylan Chmura and Graham Couch’s column about how this class has some players that could make an immediate impact.
Chicago Julian defensive end Demetrius Cooper has signed his letter of intent and we were able to catch up with him this morning.
In his only game this fall, the 6-foot-6, 225-pound Cooper had 14 tackles and two sacks. Here’s his thoughts.
Q: What does it mean to officially be a Spartan now?
Cooper: It means a lot because a year ago I really didn’t see myself in this situation. Just being able to sign a DI scholarship at that. I’m really emotional right now because I overcame a lot of things in the past with my (knee) injury and everything. It’s just a great feeling right now and I’m feeling good.
Q: Was this like a dream come true considering what you went through with your injury?
Cooper: When I was a sophomore playing football I always dreamed and I saw a couple of seniors on my team sign scholarships to DI schools. I saw myself doing that too. My junior year everything just went to the black. I thought football was basically over with with the injury. I didn’t really have anybody to talk to as far as football, there were no coaches coming in and talking to me. I really didn’t see myself in this situation. I saw myself going some other way, working a job or something. Then something told me no don’t do it (give football up). Do what you’ve been doing. I really didn’t see myself doing it (playing football) but I’m here now and I’m really proud of myself for that.
Q: How excited are you about getting going at MSU?
Cooper: I’m real excited. I haven’t played football for two years I”m just so hungry. Everybody wants to play football. Nobody wants to sit out for football, you want to play every down you can. For me, I wasn’t able to do that for my last two years in my high school career. For me to get up there, I’m just happy to do what I’ve gotta do.
Q: Besides the injury, what kept you sidelined a majority of the fall?
Cooper: I had eligibility issues with my transferring schools. I came from Morgan Park and was ineligible for a couple of games. Then our school teachers had a CPS (Chicago Public Schools) strike. With that I missed two games of the season and then I had the scar tissue on my (right) knee that had to get cleared up. By that time my team was 0-7 and we didn’t win a game at the end of the year. Basically the season was over with. That’s why I wasn’t able to play this year. A lot of little things was going on.
Q: How much harder are you going to have to work to prepare yourself with you pretty much not having played a game in two seasons?
Cooper: You gotta work hard. Everything takes work. If you don’t work you’re not gonna succeed. For me I work hard. My junior year for me to come back from the injury I was working very hard everyday. working my knee out, working my upper body out just to get back for my senior year and just to come back and ball. When I couldn’t play my senior year I was a little upset with it but you just gotta move on. Right now I’m playing basketball so I lift weights but not as close to what I was doing. After basketball season I’m gonna be back in the weight room like I’ve been doing.
Q: Are you planning to play a sport in the spring too, or just focused on training for football?
Cooper: I was looking at running track. I’m a track runner too. I was looking forward to playing baseball, I play that too. I’m probably, with me signing the scholarship, just automatically going to focus on football right now. This whole offseason and the spring I’m just going to be training and lifting weights and doing everything I’ve gotta do to get ready for the next level.
Q: How is your basketball season going and how does your knee feel?
Cooper: We’re doing fine. We’ve lost a couple of games and won a couple of games. I’m averaging a double-double right now. I’m a pretty good basketball player too. We’re doing pretty good. It (my knee) feels good. When I first started playing I was kind of favoring it a little bit but now I’m playing like I’m supposed to be playing. I feel like it’s not gonna give out on me. Its feeling good.
Q: What do you bring to the MSU football program?
Cooper: One thing I can bring to the team is speed rush. This past season they really didn’t have a speed rushing guy. They didn’t really have too many sacks this year. I know I can bring to the table this year speed and quickness and can get to the quarterback for them. That’s what I’m looking forward to doing.