By RENALDO DORSETT
Tribune Sports Reporter
ALEX Cooper was recognised as one of the top players in the Houston Cougars football programme over the past 10 years as it continued to rise to national prominence.
Cooper was named to The Cougar’s All-Decade Offensive Team featuring the top performers from 2010 to 2019.
When he moved to Houston as a member of the Frank Rutherford Development Programme, Cooper was a highly touted basketball recruit at Second Baptist High School.
In his senior season he earned 4A All-District honours on the court, and on the gridiron he played both ways, tallying five catches for 54 yards and a touchdown on offence and racking up 13 sacks and two fumble recoveries on defence. He made the transition from a high school basketball standout to a defensive lineman, worked his way into a starting role at right tackle in just over two years.
Cooper chose Houston over Baylor, Kansas State, Rice and SMU.
He was a redshirt as a true freshman before he eventually made a switch from the defensive to the offensive side of the ball just prior to fall practice and provided depth on the offensive line as a member of the jumbo package.
As a redshirt sophomore he played in 12 games with one start as a tight end in the team’s jumbo formation and was also a member of Houston’s field goal team. He finished the year with 69 snaps on the offensive line.
In his redshirt junior season he started all 13 games at right tackle and helped the Houston offence gain 2,194 yards on the ground for 4.8 yards per rush and 26 rushing touchdowns in those 12 games.
Prior to his senior season, he completed his undergraduate degree and was named to the 2015 Athlon Sports Preseason AAC Third Team.
Cooper started 25 straight games on the Cougars line at various positions including both tackle spots and right guard. Cooper and the line led a Houston team that was 14th ranked nationally in rushing offence at 240.1 yards per game.
The Eleuthera native reportedly graded out at 81 per cent as he played 1,046 snaps on offence, allowed a single sack and averaged 4.8 knockdown blocks per game. He was named All-AAC and Phil Steele’s AAC Second Team selections.
He ended his senior season when the No.14 ranked Cougars won 38-24 over the No.9 Florida State Seminoles in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Georgia on New Year’s Eve. The Cougars finished 13-1, 7-1 in the American Athletic Conference (AAC) to win the conference.
Following his Cougars career, Cooper garnered the attention of several NFL teams, including the Houston Texans and the Oakland Raiders before he eventually signed as an undrafted free agent by the Cincinnati Bengals.
He appeared in four preseason games with the Bengals before he was eventually released.
During 2010 to 2019, the Cougars grew as a programme — in doing so, jumped conferences, switched between seven head coaches, enjoyed several upsets and amassed an 80-48 record.