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UNC's Cooper named Outland Trophy finalist

Posted November 19, 2012

— North Carolina senior offensive guard Jonathan Cooper has been named one of three finalists for the Outland Trophy, the Football Writers Association of America announced Monday.

Cooper joins Alabama center Barrett Jones and Texas A&M offensive tackle Luke Joeckel as the finalists for the nation’s third oldest player award that has been given since 1946 to the best interior lineman in college football.

Cooper, a 6-foot-3, 305-pound senior from Wilmington, N.C., has not allowed a sack this season and has been named ACC Offensive Lineman of the Week twice.

“I’m thrilled to be a finalist for the Outland Trophy,” said Cooper. “When I came to school, I never envisioned this could be possible. It really is a dream come true. You come to college to be the best player you can and I’m thankful to the Outland committee for acknowledging me.”

Cooper: I'm trying to focus and enjoy the moment Cooper: I'm trying to focus and enjoy the moment

Cooper is seeking to become North Carolina's first ever Outland Trophy winner and the first from the ACC since North Carolina State's Jim Ritcher in 1979.

“Coop has been invaluable as a leader and as a senior with this team,” said head coach Larry Fedora. “He’s very athletic, has tremendously quick feet for an offensive lineman and excels in all phases of the game. We’re fortunate to have him because, as I tell our coaches, you might not see another one as good as he is. Beyond his playing ability, he’s also a great person. Anyone who has spent time with him knows that he’s always a pleasure to be around. He always sees the positives in every situation.”

The three Outland finalists will be highlighted on ESPNU during The Home Depot College Football Awards Nomination Special airing Tuesday at 6 p.m. ET.

Jones, who followed previous Alabama Outland Trophy winners, offensive tackles Chris Samuels (1999) and Andre Smith (2008), as the 2011 winner, is one of the most versatile and productive linemen in college football. He has played guard, tackle and center on two national championship teams at Alabama.

Joeckel, a 6-foot-6, 310-pound junior from Arlington, Texas, has helped protect freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel during his rookie season. Nationally, Texas A&M ranks 14th in rushing, 17th in passing, fifth in total offense and sixth in scoring offense. Texas A&M has never had an Outland Trophy winner or finalist.

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