Pharoh Cooper, South Carolina’s do-it-all playmaker for the 2014 and 2015 seasons, is preparing for the NFL Combine and draft process by working out at the EXOS training facility in Phoenix, Ariz.
Cooper led the Gamecocks in 2015 with 66 catches and 973 yards. Despite having only 54 receiving yards as a true freshman, Cooper finished his career with 138 catches for 2,163 yards. He is one of nine Gamecocks in history to notch at least 2,000 yards through the air.
Cooper, originally from Havelock, N.C., added 529 return yards, 513 rushing yards and 118 passing yards in his three-year career. His 3,205 career all-purpose yards rank 10th in school history.
How long has it been a dream to play in the NFL?
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Since I was 5 years old in Havelock Pop Warner playing for the Cowboys. It’s been my dream since then.
How did your USC career prepare you for the pros?
It prepared me a lot. Coach (Steve) Spurrier Jr. was a good receivers coach. He knew a lot about the game. He coached in the NFL. He taught me a lot about running routes, concepts, coverages, little things like that
What will you miss most about college?
What I’ll miss most about South Carolina is probably the football games, lining up and running out of the tunnel to 85,000 every Saturday. It was a great feeling. Just hanging out with my friends and having that bond with friends and teammates, going to the locker room, lifting weights with the guys, laughing and playing football. That’s the college I love. I love the city. I’ve been there for three years and I’m going to miss everything about it. ... I’ve been seeing (Will) Muschamp doing a lot of recruiting. I hope them boys turn it around this year and have a good year. I’m still going to be rooting for them. I’m a Gamecock for life.
What is a typical training day like at EXOS?
A typical day would be wake up around 6:30, get to the facility around 7 o’clock. We have breakfast at 7:30, get taped, treatment, whatever I need to do. We’ll typically lift weights in the morning. Sometimes we run. We switch it up every other day. We’ll run, do a lot of speed work, a lot of acceleration work. After that we have specific training, such as a receiver coach out here teaching us. Then we’ll come back and do a little more movement for speed, then go back to the weight room and do another lift to work on different parts of your body.
What are the goals of your training?
Just to get better and faster and learn more in the film room and interviewing-wise. Really getting fast at the 40-yard dash is a key part of the NFL Combine. Catching and making sure my hands are getting better every day and just trying to be as fast as I can when I run the 40.
After this training process, I go to the Combine at the end of February and hope to kill the Combine. That’s what I’ve been working for. Then come back to Columbia in the first week of March and do the pro day and then just work out and grind until I hear my name called.
Feb. 23-29: NFL Scouting Combine, Indianapolis
March 30: South Carolina’s on-campus Pro Timing Day
April 28-30: 2016 NFL draft, Chicago