North Carolina

Cooper nervously awaiting name call

Posted April 25, 2013

— For the last four years, Jonathan Cooper has been lacing up his cleats for the University of North Carolina. The Wilmington, N.C., native is a big, imposing offensive guard, who made a career out of clearing holes for Tar Heel running backs.

At 6-foot-2, 311-pounds, Cooper’s work in the trenches did not escape the notice of NFL scouts, who project him as an early first-round pick in the NFL Draft.

“It’s been a lot of traveling, a lot of metal preparation and mental tests and the handling of physical stress,” Cooper said of the process leading up to the draft. “The biggest thing that I have learned is to try and enjoy it because there are a lot of guys that would like to change places with me.”

Away from the field, Cooper’s classroom and community service work won him numerous awards this spring. With his lack of character issues, the always affable Cooper scored high on intangibles with NFL teams.

“That’s what I always used to say, I’m banking on my character to get me through the draft,” Cooper said. “I try to have a good personality and be the person my parents raised me to be.”

Another plus for Cooper is his adaptability. After playing for three head coaches in his career at Carolina, he’s shown he can adjust to new coaching and playing styles.

“It showed all the coaches my versatility and my ability to fit into different schemes,” Cooper said. “It showed my ability to transition with a new coaching staff as well as pick up a new playbook quickly.”

Now, Cooper is on the clock. He’ll be in the green room for the NFL Draft Thursday, and admitted it could be an emotional night.

“It’ll be exciting to get to the podium and see Roger Goodell and shake hands with him,” Cooper said. “I’m getting nervous just thinking about it. I really just try and put it off and save all my emotion for that moment. I might cry.”

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