May 26: “Feeling blessed”
That’s the reaction of a man who has achieved his goal. It was tweeted by Fahn Cooper (@Play4Keeps74), the former Crystal Lake South football player who is now in Oxford, Miss., preparing for the upcoming football season with the Ole Miss Rebels.
The road wasn’t easy. It took two dissatisfactory years at Bowling Green and a lot of credit hours at Glen Ellyn’s College of DuPage, but after finally getting his grades up, Cooper had the opportunity to go where he wanted all along.
So, in May, he moved in. With two years of eligibility remaining, he went down to get acquainted with his new school and his new teammates. While he was doing that, his new offensive line coach, Matt Luke, was meeting with his former high school coach to get an idea of where the lineman is at.
“[I told Luke] he’s far removed from high school, but in high school, he was a dominant force,” Crystal Lake South coach Chuck Ahsmann said. “You just don’t get many 6-5. 320-pound offensive linemen in high school, especially in the Fox Valley [Conference].”
For that reason, Ole Miss is glad to have him. Ahsmann said he’s heard from other people in the Ole Miss program that they’re happy with the work he’s been doing in the weight room.
June 14: “If it's important to you, you will find a way...If not you'll find an excuse”
And Cooper has found a way to make it to college football’s premier football conference, the SEC. Right now, practices haven’t started yet, so he is in the weight room, doing individual workouts and taking summer classes to lighten the load once the season starts.
Things have been so busy that he can’t even come home for the Fourth of July. That was the original plan, but there’s too much work to be done.
He’s currently living in the junior/senior dorms, but not for long. Once training camp starts and the school year approaches, he’ll likely move into an apartment with some teammates. Even though Cooper hasn’t been there long, he’s fitting in like a veteran.
“He’s doing very well,” said his father, Edwin Cooper. “He’s enjoying it there, likes everything, getting along with his teammates. Everything’s going well.”
Cooper may be a junior, but Ole Miss isn’t allowing the media to speak to first-year players right now. His focus is just school and sports, and the only firsthand perspective we have is from his tweets.
June 20: “Had to suffer...had to struggle...had to flex my muscle”
And it’s looking like all that adversity may be worth it. The Rebels have a talented sophomore left tackle, Laremy Tunsil, but the right tackle spot is open after Pierce Burton headed to the NFL. The opportunity for Cooper to start is there. He just has to seize it.
Once that goal is achieved, he’ll be on to the next one. That’s the way he is. The ultimate goal is the NFL, and he’s now at a place where he might get the exposure to make that a reality.
“He wants to play at the next level and realizes that it’s going to take a lot of hard work, and not only hard work, but a little luck,” Ahsmann said. “I think he’s at a place now where he’s certainly going to get a lot of recognition if he does play well.”