Watch: Former Gamecock Pharoh Cooper reflects on Pro Bowl season with L.A. Rams
After a disappointing rookie season, Pharoh Cooper found his niche during his second year in the NFL.
The former South Carolina standout, who played in just 10 games as a rookie and battled injuries, blossomed into one of the NFL’s best special teams’ performers and played a hand in the Los Angeles Rams’ playoff run.
Cooper was second in the league in kickoff returns with 932 yards and averaged 27.4 yards per return. He was also second in punt returns with 399 yards, was a Pro Bowl selection and a first team Associated Press selection.
“I’m more smart and a complete player as far as special teams and a receiver,” Cooper said at DJ Swearinger’s Charity basketball game. “I’m just out there doing my job. It’s more of a business out there as we all know. You just have to go down, do your work every day and secure your job.
“It was a great honor to make the Pro Bowl. (Year two) came so fast, honestly. … It really hit me and came real fast, but it was a blessing to get voted in out of all the other players in the league."
Cooper’s breakout game came against Jacksonville when he returned a kickoff 103 yards for a touchdown and took over punt return duties in the game from Tavon Austin, who is now with the Dallas Cowboys.
"He's been tremendous all year for us and has done a great job in the return game," Rams quarterback Jared Goff told reporters of Cooper. "He's found a little niche for himself."
Cooper credits his playing at South Carolina and in the SEC for helping him with his transition to the NFL. He was a two-time all-SEC first-team selection and racked up almost 2,500 yards from scrimmage and 20 total TDs in his final two seasons for the Gamecocks.
“Playing in the SEC instills toughness and competitiveness. You need all of that at the next level. That’s what I come from, from Havelock (hometown), to South Carolina, always been competitive,” Cooper said.
Despite being across the country, Cooper does his best to follow his alma mater and caught a few games last season. He had high praise for Gamecocks coach Will Muschamp and the energy he has brought to the program.
He also has payed attention to this year’s group of receivers, which is led by Deebo Samuel.
“Bryan (Edwards) and Deebo are ones I’m familiar with,” Cooper said. “They got a young talented group and they got Jake Bentley back. I know they lost the tight end (Hayden Hurst). I am Looking forward to young guys putting some work in.”