Pharoh Cooper

Gamecocks WR Pharoh Cooper turning pro, says father

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South Carolina wide receiver Pharoh Cooper will play his final collegiate game this Saturday against Clemson. The junior wide receiver will not return for his senior season in Columbia and will instead enter the 2016 NFL Draft, according to his father.

“He definitely appreciates the opportunity to play for South Carolina, and we as parents appreciate the opportunity they gave him,” Cooper’s father, Glen Cooper, said in a story for The Slate. “He wants to ride the wave at its high point.”

According to The Slate report, Cooper’s decision to turn pro was more about what kind of potential he is believed to have entering the NFL next season and not the coaching change underway with the Gamecocks. Steve Spurrier resigned as head coach during the season and South Carolina will have a new coach in 2016, which is still to be determined. And he does have the pro potential. Josh Norris of RotoWorld ranks Cooper as the eighth-best wide receiver in the NFL Draft Class of 2016. Cooper also wanted to avoid risking an injury in 2016 before taking the next step toward the NFL, which can tend to be a wise choice for so many players given the uncertainty revolving around the sport.

Cooper leads South Carolina with 887 yards and seven touchdowns this season. With South Carolina out of postseason contention, Cooper will likely fall shy of his 2014 total of 1,136 yards (if he matches that, good night to Clemson’s title hopes), but he could have a chance to tie his team-leading nine touchdown mark from a season ago.

UNC takes 13-10 lead into halftime of Belk Kickoff

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North Carolina has had one red zone opportunity end with an interception, another with a sack leading to a longer field goal. Regardless of a couple of missed opportunities inside the South Carolina 20-yard line, the Tar Heels find themselves leading 13-10 after the second first half of FBS college football this season (UCF and FIU beat the Belk Kickoff to the punch; UCF leading FIU 14-3).

It looked as though North Carolina was going to have a big night if the first two offensive possessions of the ballgame were any indication. The Tar Heel defense, with Gene Chizik at the helm as defensive coordinator, forced a three-and-out on the Gamecocks’ opening possession and then the offense went to work by driving right inside the red zone. Looking for six, UNC quarterback Marquise Williams threw a poor pass over the middle that was picked off by Skai Moore in the end zone.

How did Williams respond? By completing his next pass attempt for a 40-yard gain following a South Carolina punt. The long pass to Bug Howard set the pace for an up-tempo drive, which continued with a 23-yard strike to Quinshad Davis and concluded with a 21-yard touchdown pass to Howard, who broke away from a defender to make his way to the end zone. Howard’s touchdown was the first touchdown of the FBS season.

South Carolina had an answer though, driving 75 yards on seven plays to even the score at 7-7. Connor Mitch completed three of his four pass attempts and finished off the drive with a nine-yard touchdown pass to Pharaoh Cooper. Cooper would later walk off the field to receive medical treatment for minor cramping. Mitch would also leave the game late in the first half for cramping issues. Perry Orth took over and moved the Gamecocks into range for a long field goal try at the end of the half, but the 50+ try fell shy of the bar.

Alabama, LSU pace SEC coaches preseason All-SEC team

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You may have thought we were done taking a look at preseason all-conference teams. Think again, because the SEC has served up three preseason all-conference teams for you. Alabama and LSU each land 10 players on the preseason selections as determined by the coaches of the SEC. As you might expect with three preseason all-conference teams, all 14 members of the SEC manage to be represented, because that would have really stunk for Vanderbilt if they couldn’t make the cut. It is the college football preseason equivalent to participation trophies.

As noted by the sEC, coaches were not allowed to coach for their own players. South Carolina’s Pharoh Cooper scored a spot on the preseason All-SEC teams not once, not twice, but three times. Cooper earned first-team honors at wide receiver and as an all-purpose athlete. Cooper again appears on the first team list as a return specialist. Other players earning first-team honors include Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott, Ole Miss wide receiver Laquon Treadwell, running backs Nick Chubb (Georgia) and Leonard Fournette (LSU). The defense is headlined by names like Robert Nkemdiche (Ole Miss), Curt Maggit (Tennessee), Vernon Hargreaves (Florida) Cyrus Jones (Alabama)and Jalen Mills (LSU).

Here are all All-SEC first team selections as determined by the coaches around the conference. You can view the SEC release for the other two if you are so inclined.

SEC Coaches Preseason All-SEC First Team

SEC Coaches Preseason All-SEC First Team

Alabama lands 12 players on preseason All-SEC media selections

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Before we closed the books on the SEC’s week-long football preview week, the SEC released its annual media preseason all-conference selections. As if one team of preseason All-SEC players is not enough to hold us over, the good folks at the SEC made sure everyone working in the sports information offices throughout the conference (except for Vanderbilt) were busy by naming not two but three All-SEC teams.

The first team offenses is led by one of last year’s biggest breakout stars, Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott. He is joined by two of the conference’s, and perhaps the nation’s, top two young running backs; Nick Chubb of Georgia and Leonard Fournette of LSU. Fournette also received a nod on the All-SEC Special teams with a second team recognition. Ole Miss wide receiver Laquon Treadwell is expected to have a big return after seeing his 2014 season cut a little short by a tough ankle injury. He was named to the All-SEC First Team by the media this week. He is one of three Rebels to appear on the All-SEC First Team offense.

Among the three All-SEC teams put together by the media, no school had more players recognized than Alabama, with 12. Vanderbilt was the only school without a player selected.

OFFENSE
First-Team
QB Dak Prescott, Mississippi State (170)
RB Nick Chubb, Georgia (189)
RB Leonard Fournette, LSU (180)
WR Laquon Treadwell, Ole Miss (169)
WR D’haquille Williams, Auburn (154)
TE Evan Engram, Ole Miss (128)
OL Cam Robinson, Alabama (167)
OL Laremy Tunsil, Ole Miss (159)
OL Vadal Alexander, LSU (131)
OL John Theus, Georgia (129)
C Ryan Kelly, Alabama (144)

Second-Team
QB Jeremy Johnson, Auburn (89)
RB Derrick Henry, Alabama (151)
RB Jonathan Williams, Arkansas (82)
WR Pharoh Cooper, South Carolina (147)
WR De’Runnya Wilson, Mississippi State (59)
TE Hunter Henry, Arkansas (97)
OL Germain Ifedi, Texas A&M (124)
OL Dan Skipper, Arkansas (95)
OL Denver Kirkland, Arkansas (85)
OL Greg Pyke, Georgia (83)
C Mike Matthews, Texas A&M (108)

Third-Team
QB Joshua Dobbs, Tennessee (62)
RB Alex Collins, Arkansas (80)
RB Kenyan Drake, Alabama (34)
WR Malcolm Mitchell, Georgia (50)
WR Josh Reynolds, Texas A&M (39)
TE O.J. Howard, Alabama (87)
OL Sebastian Tretola, Arkansas (72)
OL Alex Kozan, Auburn (69)
OL Avery Young, Auburn (57)
OL Brandon Shell, South Carolina (50)
C Evan Boehm, Missouri (81)

DEFENSE
First-Team
DL Robert Nkemdiche, Ole Miss (173)
DL A’Shawn Robinson, Alabama (160)
DL Myles Garrett, Texas A&M (155)
DL Carl Lawson, Auburn (131)
LB Reggie Ragland, Alabama (181)
LB Jordan Jenkins, Georgia (121)
LB Curt Maggitt, Tennessee (102)
DB Vernon Hargreaves, Florida (186)
DB Cyrus Jones, Alabama (126)
DB Jonathan Jones, Auburn (122)
DB Jalen Mills, LSU (118)

Second-Team
DL Jonathan Bullard, Florida (115)
DL Derek Barnett, Tennessee (105)
DL Jonathan Allen, Alabama (99)
DL Chris Jones, Mississippi State (93)
LB Kendell Beckwith, LSU (93)
LB Leonard Floyd, Georgia (92)
LB Cassanova McKinzy, Auburn (80)
DB Tony Conner, Ole Miss (117)
DB Cameron Sutton, Tennessee (115)
DB Will Redmond, Mississippi State (79)
DB Tre’Davious White, LSU (61)

Third-Team
DL Montravius Adams, Auburn (90)
DL Jarran Reed, Alabama (60)
DL Davon Godchaux, LSU (40)
DL Marquis Haynes, Ole Miss (34)
LB Kris Frost, Auburn (77)
LB Antonio Morrison, Florida (66)
LB Kentrell Brothers, Missouri (61)
DB A.J. Stamps, Kentucky (59)
DB Eddie Jackson, Alabama (58)
DB Jamal Adams, LSU (56)
DB Johnathan Ford, Auburn (52)

SPECIALISTS
First-Team
P JK Scott, Alabama (161)
PK Marshall Morgan, Georgia (100)
RS Speedy Noil, Texas A&M (117)
AP Pharoh Cooper, South Carolina (112)

Second-Team
P Drew Kaser, Texas A&M (92)
PK Elliott Fry, South Carolina (87)
RS Pharoh Cooper, South Carolina (75)
AP Leonard Fournette, LSU (85)

Third-Team
P Jamie Keehn, LSU (52)
PK Austin MacGinnis, Kentucky (59)
RS Leonard Fournette, LSU (66)
AP Speedy Noil, Texas A&M (84)

Two glaring omissions headline Biletnikoff watch list

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It’s not often that who’s not on what’s essentially a meaningless preseason watch list is the main storyline, but that’s the case when it comes to the Biletnikoff Award this year.

First, who is on the watch list for the award handed out annually to the nation’s top wide receivers: a total of 48 players at the position, which is actually a rather subdued number compared to other watch lists that come out this time of the year.

Headlining the four dozen receivers actually listed is Colorado State’s Rashard Higgins, who was a finalist for last year’s award that went to Alabama’s Amari Cooper.  Joining Higgins are 2014 semifinalists Sterling Shepard of Oklahoma and Nelson Spruce of Colorado.

Now, the players who was inexplicably excluded from the initial watch list? Auburn’s D’haquille Williams, first and foremost. The senior wideout was already named to the Maxwell Award watch list earlier this month. He’s considered by many to be the best receiver in the SEC — Mel Kiper has Williams as his No. 1 player at that position — yet four receivers from that conference are included.  The only receiver on the Biletnikoff watch list to also make Maxwell’s is South Carolina’s Pharoh Cooper.

Williams missed three of the last four games last season because of an injury, yet still totaled 45 receptions for 730 yards and five touchdowns. Kiper may have him a bit overrated on his Big Board, but Williams certainly deserves one of the 48 spots allotted — or the award should at least make room for a 49th.  Or a 49th and 50th.

That said, Williams can, and probably will, be added to an in-season update from the folks at the Biletnikoff.  The same could be said for Player. No. 2: Ole Miss’ Laquon Treadwell.

Despite missing the last four games of the year because of a gruesome leg injury, Williams still led the Rebels in receptions with 48 and was second in yardage with 632.  Like Williams, Treadwell made the cut for the Maxwell, which is awarded annually to the best player in college football regardless of position.

Anyway, below is the complete Biletnikoff Award preseason watch list.

Victor Bolden, Oregon State
Devonte Boyd, UNLV
Daniel Braverman, Western Michigan
Ryan Burbrink, Bowling Green
KD Cannon, Baylor
Leonte Carroo, Rutgers
Rashon Ceaser, ULM
Corey Coleman, Baylor
Pharoh Cooper, South Carolina
River Cracraft, Washington State
Jared Dangerfield, Western Kentucky
Corey Davis, Western Michigan
Josh Doctson, TCU
Travin Dural, LSU
Alex Erickson, Wisconsin
William Fuller, Notre Dame
Jakeem Grant, Texas Tech
DaeSean Hamilton, Penn State
Donovan Harden, Georgia State
Carlos Harris, North Texas
Rashard Higgins, Colorado State
Ajalen Holley, ULM
Cayleb Jones, Arizona
Corey Jones, Toledo
Isaiah Jones, East Carolina
Marcus Kemp, Hawaii
Roger Lewis, Bowling Green
Keevan Lucas, Tulsa
Byron Marshall, Oregon
Mitch Mathews, BYU
Teldrick Morgan, New Mexico State
Jordan Payton, UCLA
Josh Reynolds, Texas A&M
Jalen Robinette, Air Force
Demarcus Robinson, Florida
Alonzo Russell, Toledo
Artavis Scott, Clemson
Hunter Sharp, Utah State
Tajae Sharpe, Massachusetts
Sterling Shepard, Oklahoma
Thomas Sperbeck, Boise State
Nelson Spruce, Colorado
Taywan Taylor, Western Kentucky
Trent Taylor, Louisiana Tech
Michael Thomas, Ohio State
Shaq Washington, Cincinnati
Mike Williams, Clemson
Ron Willoughby, Buffalo