Nov. 23, 2012; Pullman, WA, USA; Washington State Cougars defensive end Xavier Cooper (96) celebrates after a game against Washington Huskies at Martin Stadium. The Cougars would go onto beat the Huskies by a final score of 31-28 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports
Xavier Cooper had himself a solid redshirt freshman campaign and looks to build upon his success in 2013. Cooper’s accolades from last season, from WSUCougars.com:
"RS-FRESHMAN (2012):Earned a varsity letter after appearing in 11 games, starting nine…named All-Pac-12 honorable mention…made 34 tackles including 8.5 for loss, tied for third-most on team…recorded 3.0 sacks and forced one fumble…made one tackle-for-loss in collegiate debut against Eastern Washington…in first career start, made career-high seven tackles, five solo including 3.0 tackles-for-loss and first career sack against Colorado…recorded two tackles, both for loss, against No. 2 Oregon in Seattle…made four tackles at No. 14 Oregon State…made three tackles against California…made six tackles including one sack and forced a fumble at Utah…made two tackles, assisted on a tackle-for-loss against No. 17 UCLA…made six tackles including one sack at Arizona State…made one tackle in Apple Cup win over Washington…presented WSU’s Tim Petek Award for strongest man."
Cooper (now 6’4″, 298 lbs) has gotten bigger, stronger and faster for his third year as a Cougar and is going to be expected to replace the production of Travis Long on the edge. However I think if that’s all he did, it would be pretty disappointing. Cooper has a mean streak and athleticism the likes of which Long never possessed, but made up for with his endless effort and hustle. X.C. also has the benefit of a year in the system and a better defense around him, as well as the exclusive responsibility of finding the opposing backfield.
The Cougs have always been known to have an end that brings either speed or constant energy, but it’s been some time since they’ve combined that guy with athleticism and power. With these attributes, no coverage responsibilities and a defense that should command more attention than in the past 5 years from the linebacker positions, it’s clear why Xavier Cooper should be a continuing cog in the resurgence of dominant defensive ends from Washington State.