Pharoh Cooper Rules The Roost


“He’s a smart, mature kid who can handle it all.” Wide Receiver Coach Spurrier Jr. could not have described Pharoh Cooper any better than when he said this in a March pre-season interview.

On paper, number 11 Cooper is listed as a wide receiver, but if you’ve watched even a quarter of Gamecock football this year, you’ve seen Cooper making plays virtually everywhere.  Despite the Gamecock loss to Tennessee, Cooper had a career best night, catching two TD passes, running 1 and passing 1, with 233 total receiving yards.  He broke the school record for receiving yards, previously held by first round NFL drafter Troy Williamson’s 210 yards.

“I’m just going to keep working hard to get better.” Pharoh Cooper

Other notable games include Vanderbilt, with 10 receptions for 114 yards and against Auburn, with 7 receptions for 127 yards and 2 TDs.  This season alone, he’s got 51 receptions for a total of 786 yards and 8 total TDs.  He’s a good enough receiver that the all-time leading passer for USC, Todd Ellis, who happens to be the Voice of the Gamecocks, has coined the term, “Cooper Catch” for every outstanding drive he runs at Williams Brice.

This isn’t Cooper’s first experience with being a star.  The true freshman graduated from Havelock, NC, where he helped his team earn back to back 3A State Titles, including a perfect 16-0 season his senior year.  In fact, Cooper utilized his free weekend last week to return home to cheer on his team in person, as well as on twitter:

In addition to his outstanding performance for the Gamecocks this year, Cooper was an All SEC freshman last year, as both an all-purpose back and return specialist.  He was also named the Joe Morrison Offensive Player in Spring 2014 and was named to the Paul Hornung Award Honor Roll (given to the most versatile player in college football), as well as receiving the College Football Performance Award for National Wide Receiver of the Week for his outstanding work against the Volunteers.

Cooper seems to be handling his new found spotlight very humbly; he’s been quoted multiple times acknowledging his success but being realistic in that his team is still struggling this season.  “I expected to catch a few balls, make a few plays. That comes with having confidence in yourself to go out and make plays. Having the amount of yards and catches I have now, I didn’t expect any of this. It’s a blessing and I give glory to God for everything he’s done. I’m just going to keep working hard to get better.”  In post-game interview, he said he’s thankful to have had this past weekend off to recharge and get ready for Florida.

Hopefully we will see more of his wildcat against Florida this week.  Experts say this game will be close, though that’s not super helpful considering USC has lost by one TD or less in 4 of 5 losses.  Florida has struggled this season, especially with their quarterback, but rallied against Georgia two weeks ago for a 38-20 win while South Carolina beat Georgia 38-35, with Todd Gurley.  On that same line, Florida lost to Missouri 42-13, whereas South Carolina lost to Missouri 21-20.  At the end of the day, a loss is a loss and a win is a win, but I see the margin in both for these two teams.  I hoping Pharoh Cooper is the difference maker again this week, not just with big personal numbers, but helping the team to a much-needed SEC victory.