Penn State football’s big names sit mostly at the linebacking corp. However, lesser known backups like Jake Cooper play a large role as well.
With a name like “Linebacker U”, expectations constantly stay high for that Penn State football position group. There’s loads of talent back in the starting lineup, but strong backups return like Jake Cooper as well.
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Cooper might go unnoticed to the casual fan, but he made an impression on the Nittany Lions’ coaching staff. He got on the field in his true freshman season and recorded a start as well in 2015. In the lone start he made six tackles against Georgia in Penn State’s bowl game. He would finish with 14 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss and a sack.
After receiving early playing time in 2015, Cooper struggled to stay on the field in 2016. He missed eight games due to injury, but managed to record 15 tackles in just four games. Although It’s unclear where he’ll be on the depth chart for 2017, he should see time. The linebacker spot sees a lot of attrition, so it shouldn’t be a surprise if he sees the field.
Cooper played at the outside and inside spots which gives him more chances of seeing the field. Versatility can be key and at 6-foot-1, 230-pounds, he gives a little more power to a speed-driven position group. With 18 games of experience and some nice production in his few starts, Cooper helps fortify the defense with a reliable veteran.
Last season’s strong performance in the 4-3 defense could see an even bigger rise in 2016. For instance, the team lost just four starters with most of the linebackers and secondary contributors back.