Clemson Head Coach Dabo Swinney announced after practice Monday that senior linebacker Scotty Cooper has decided to give up football due to a neck injury. Cooper was a veteran of 37 games, including six as a starter over the last three years.
“Scotty has had problems with a nerve in his neck and the only way to solve the problem is to not hit anyone,” said Swinney. “Scotty is a violent player who hits people when he plays this sport, and the only way he can get better is to give up football.
“This is a big loss for us because we counted on him making plays for our defense at the linebacker position. But his health is much more important. He will stay with our program as a student coach the next two years. He aspires to go into the coaching profession, so this will be a good way for him to learn.”
Cooper has had neck problems in spring practice and fall camp since first suffering an injury at Maryland last year.
Cooper had 33 tackles as a freshman when he played in 12 games and started two on Clemson’s 2007 team that finished with a 9-4 record. He had a career high 10 tackles in the Chick-fil-A Bowl game against Auburn. He played in 13 games, four as a starter in 20008 and had 28 tackles.
Last year he played in 12 of the 14 games, but suffered a neck injury at Maryland that limited his play the rest of the season. He was the team’s top special teams player in the ACC Championship game against Georgia Tech, however.
Cooper was a backup strongside linebacker behind Quandon Christian entering August practice. Daniel Andrews is the backup at that position as the Tigers enter the final two weeks of preparation for the season opener with North Texas on Sept. 4.
The Tigers worked a typical short Monday practice. “We are treating this like a game week practice in terms of time on the field,” said Swinney. “Tuesday will be our final day of camp in that we will have half a practice and a half scrimmage. It will be our last full scrimmage before we play on September 4. Wednesday will be all about preparation for North Texas. I am anxious to start that. We are all ready to do some scouting on an opponent.”
While the news on Cooper was a disappointment, the Tigers did get Andre Branch (virus), DeAndre Hopkins (shoulder) and Rod McDowell (concussion) back to full strength for Monday’s practice.
There was no media availability following practice.