Auburn, Ala.--Senior offensive lineman Jared Cooper has waited his turn and now could be the time for the guard from W.S. Neal High in Brewton to contribute in a major way to the Auburn offense.
A physical player who has played mostly on special teams in his career, Cooper is ready for his shot at a starting role and has enjoyed seeing his younger teammates step forward this preseason.
“I think it has gone well,” Cooper said. “It has been really exciting to see a lot of guys step up. In the past it has been the same thing, but it has been the same faces year in and year out. It’s a new experience watching the new guys come in, but I think it’s going real well.”
One of the keys for any offensive line is having some continuity to help the unit become cohesive. In turn that helps the line play as one and makes for a better performance overall. Cooper said so far that has been coming together for the Tigers this preseason.
“I think we’re coming along real well,” Cooper said. “I talked a couple of weeks ago about chemistry. That’s something I feel like we’ve come a long way with in the last few weeks. We’re getting closer and learning to trust each other more. I think we’re coming along real well.”
After working his entire career as a backup, Cooper is now the favorite to start the year as the starter at left guard for the Tigers. That has meant a different feeling for him in the preseason, not only on the field with his play, but also in a leadership role.
Jared Cooper is shown at preseason practice.
“It’s a little more, I won’t say pressure, but there is more responsibility,” Cooper said. “Obviously, you gain confidence the more reps you get. Being with the second group you more want to make sure you know how to do everything. Being in the first group you have to know you can do everything just right and do it against good competition. That’s something I feel like I have come a long way with the last week or so.”
Now under two weeks until the season opener against Utah State on Sept. 3rd, Cooper is close to achieving one of his goals of being a starter for the Tigers. With so many people counting out Auburn after winning the national title last year, Cooper said the team is ready to get the season started.
“We’re just ready,” Cooper said. “Camp is the same every year, after about two weeks of it you’re ready to hit somebody else. It’s something we’re really looking forward to.”
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