David Cloninger

Camp Insider: Cedrick Cooper ready to make most of final season

Man, did it feel good to be out there.

“For the first time, I had minor aches and pains, but it’s something that I can fight through,” senior defensive end Cedrick Cooper said, “and it’s finally something that’s not keeping me out of practice.”

Cooper always has had so much potential – and so much bad luck. He’s always the breakout player for next year. He’s always the guy that could be so good, but …

Cooper hasn’t been able to stay on the field. He showed his promise as a redshirt freshman, then hurt his knee before the bowl game and sat out the next spring. A dislocated elbow shelved him for the first three games of 2013, and he never got into the defensive rotation.

Last year was a collection of bumps and bruises until a high ankle sprain against Missouri kept him out until he started the Independence Bowl. This year is his last chance.

Cooper was the starter at left defensive end during Saturday’s scrimmage, and he played well. The position is not set, but he was playing, he was healthy, and at least for another day, his potential is a step ahead, just waiting to be caught and surpassed.

South Carolina could use him – for a full season this time.

“As long as I do my job, I feel the coaches will put me first,” Cooper said. “I just want to go a full year without injuries, without being kept back from something.”