Heading into the season there is never a guarantee that any player will retain a starting job. Training camp is a time for players to work their way up the depth chart and play themselves into a starting role. Halfway through camp, senior Marcus Cooper is doing just that.
Cooper watched Brandon Jones start every game at cornerback last season and played in a reserve role as the team's third cornerback. Now, Cooper is neck and neck with Jones and could wind up being the team's opening day starter at cornerback opposite Logan Ryan.
"Every player wants to start. It's never a situation where somebody wants to sit back and be on the bench," Cooper said. "So you just take that mentality from the summer and continue to get better every day and hopefully the opportunity comes to start."
Jones' practice time has been a little more limited than Cooper's, due to the fact that Jones is nursing a leg injury.
"A guy misses out [practicing] unfortunately because of injury and whatever the problems it may be, that opens up the window for anybody on the field," Cooper said. "That was the opportunity that I got and basically I took it."
And what has it been like competing with Jones, a fellow fifth-year senior?
"That competitive environment brings out the best in everybody," Cooper said. "So me and 'Juice' will continue to keep competing, we're going to continue to grow, and that's just going to benefit the both of us in the end."
Cooper has also been lining up at safety for a spell here and there.
"He's playing corner for us, he's going to play a lot in the games at corner because that's a little bit of a rotation position," head coach Kyle Flood said of Cooper. "And then in the sub-packages, we have five or six defensive backs on the field, we felt like he was the best option to go back there."
Cooper started out his career at Rutgers as a wide receiver but, after a rough go of it as a redshirt freshman, he switched over to cornerback and has progressed steadily ever since.
"Just to look back and see the progression I've made while I was here, I'm so happy and excited for the season," Cooper said. "Just the time I spent at DB has allowed me to play more confident. The more reps you get, the better you become at the position and the more confidence you build. The fact that I have been over there for three years now has really helped me out."
This is now Cooper's fifth and final training camp as a Scarlet Knight. He offered his thoughts on what he feels is the best part of this three-week August grind.
"Just the bond you get to build with these players. To win the Big East, you have to be tight with all your players. As a unit, you have to be tight. The defensive unit, the offensive unit has to be tight. The team has to be tight because that's the only it's going to get done. We have to build that camaraderie now."
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