Cooper re­turns to prac­tice after foot in­jury in the spring

Calhoun Times - - SPORTS WEDNESDAY - By Ken Suguira

After miss­ing pre­sea­son prac­tice with a foot in­jury suf­fered in spring prac­tice, Ge­or­gia Tech cen­ter and for­mer Sono­rav­ille High stand­out Kenny Cooper was ex­pected to re­turn to prac­tice Mon­day in ad­vance of their sea­son opener against Al­corn State Satur­day.

“That’s the plan,” coach Paul John­son said Sun­day tele­con­fer­ence me­dia.

John­son said coaches hope to ease Cooper back into prac­tice this week and have him ready to play against USF on Sept. 8 in Tampa, Fla. Cooper has been do­ing con­di­tion­ing work up un­til this point.

“He’ll be non-con­tact (when he first re­turns),” John­son said. “We wouldn’t do that to him, throw­ing him out there in con­tact the first day he on a with comes back. We’ll ease him in.”

Cooper is an im­por­tant piece of the Tech of­fense after start­ing all 11 games as a sopho­more last sea­son. His strength, quick­ness and agility en­able him to block lineback­ers on run plays and turn de­fen­sive tack­les away the flow of plays.

The USF game could be a par­tic­u­larly chal­leng­ing re­turn, as tem­per­a­tures for the noon kick­off could be in the 90’s.

“I doubt he could go out in the heat in Tampa and play 80 snaps, so we’ll just have to see where he is,” John­son said. “If he’s ready to play, we’ll see if we can use him. If he’s not ready, we’ll give him some time. We don’t want to rush him.”

Tech’s third game is its ACC opener, at Pitts­burgh on Sept. 15.

In his ab­sence, Ja­haziel Lee, An­drew Mar­shall, Scott Mor­gan and Chet Lagod have taken snaps at cen­ter.

Cooper was a 2016 grad­u­ate of Sono­rav­ille High and earned Cal­houn Times Al­lCounty Co- De­fen­sive Player of the Year hon­ors as a se­nior after hav­ing 78 tack­les, 22 tack­les-for­loss and 12 sacks dur­ing his se­nior sea­son. He played sev­eral po­si­tions for the Phoenix, in­clud­ing de­fen­sive line, of­fen­sive line and h-back and com­mit­ted to Ge­or­gia Tech over Western Ken­tucky.

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