Again slated to play key role in experienced Irish secondary in '99 . . . has been part-time starter each of his first three seasons and is in line for full-time role in '99 at free safety . . . joins fifth-year veteran A'Jani Sanders to give Notre Dame two top-drawer returnees at safety positions . . . combines with Sanders and cornerback Deveron Harper to give Irish three seniors who each have earned three previous monograms for play in secondary . . . tall, lanky pass defender who gives Irish some valuable size on secondary roster . . . smart player who should play key leadership role this fall . . . rated eighth among free safeties nationally in '99 preseason position evaluations by The Sporting News - and 12th among all safeties by Lindy's . . . worked his way into major assignment as rookie in '96 and continued those contributions in '97 and '98 . . . ended up a regular at free safety after early '96 injury to Jarvis Edison . . . ranked as one of eight returning letterwinners in '97 Irish secondary . . . one of only five Irish freshman players to earn monograms in '96 . . . top-flight all-around athlete who moved over to defense early in '96 campaign after beginning his Irish tenure as a wide receiver.
AS A JUNIOR: Notre Dame's third-leading tackler in '98 . . . led in fumbles caused with three . . . made far more than twice as many tackles in '98 as he did in either his entire freshman or sophomore seasons . . . made 127 regular-season special team appearances in '98 to rank fifth on team in that category - then made nine more in '99 Gator Bowl vs. Georgia Tech . . . worked on punt return and kickoff teams . . . played in all 12 games, starting five straight games, beginning vs. Michigan State . . . a bright spot vs. Michigan State as he filled in for injured starter A'Jani Sanders in starting role vs. Spartans, leading team with 16 tackles and running a fumble back 96 yards for a touchdown . . . named ABC Sports/Chevrolet Notre Dame MVP vs. Michigan State . . . started again vs. Purdue , forcing and recovering a first-half fumble and making 11 tackles . . . also started vs. Stanford, making five stops . . . had 34-yard return vs. Arizona State on third-period interception - and also led Irish in tackles with 10 . . . added nine tackles vs. Baylor . . . didn't start against Boston College but made biggest play of the day by stopping Eagle running back Mike Cloud for a one-yard loss on fourth and goal from the one with six seconds remaining and Boston College on verge of winning the contest . . . that play was selected Compaq National Defensive Play of the Week . . . his play culminated a superb goal-line stand in which the Irish kept Boston College from scoring after starting with first and goal from the Irish four . . . forced the fumble that Lamont Bryant returned for a touchdown vs. LSU...had six tackles vs. USC . . . came off the bench to make six tackles in 1999 Gator Bowl vs. Georgia Tech . . . returned an interception 45 yards for a TD in '99 Blue-Gold final spring intrasquad game.
AS A SOPHOMORE: Irish backup at free safety slot behind Jarvis Edison to start '97, as well as serving as special team standout . . . played in all 13 games in '97, including reserve role in '97 Independence Bowl vs. LSU . . . made at least 10 special team appearances in every game in '97 . . . made first start at free safety vs. Navy and made six tackles . . . involved in key final play vs. Navy as he jumped to bat down last-gasp, deep pass attempt by Middies that eventually was caught before Allen Rossum knocked the Navy player out of bounds to preserve the win . . . made three tackles each vs. Purdue and Boston College . . . started at free safety vs. Michigan State, making season-high nine tackles . . . only action vs. LSU in Independence Bowl came on 12 special team appearances . . . made 192 special-team appearances in '97 regular season, seven more than any other player on squad.
AS A FRESHMAN: Started six straight games at free safety late in '96 campaign . . . earned starting assignments vs. Washington, Air Force, Navy, Boston College, Pittsburgh and Rutgers, playing in 10 games overall (all but opener at Vanderbilt) . . . made 152 appearances with Irish special teams . . . only Benny Guilbeaux had more interceptions in '96 than his three . . . made his first career appearance and first reception on nine-yard pass reception vs. Purdue while working as wide receiver early in the year . . . shifted to free safety on Monday prior to Texas game . . . made first start vs. Washington at free safety with Jarvis Edison bothered by back spasms and made interception on third play from scrimmage . . . had four tackles vs. Washington . . . made 10 tackles, a tackle for loss and broke up a pass vs. Navy . . . had six tackles, a fumble recovery and an interception and 25-yard run at Boston College . . . intercepted a pass on final play of the game vs. Pittsburgh.
HIGH SCHOOL AND PERSONAL DATA: Helped team to championship game of Indiana state 5-A playoffs in '95 . . . all-around standout at Evansville North High School in Evansville, Ind. . . . finalist for '95 Indiana Mr. Football Award . . . carried 88 times for 925 yards and eight TDs as senior in '95, also catching 16 passes for 353 yards and three TDs . . . switched from receiver to tailback midway through senior campaign . . . had 75-yard TD run in '95 state championship game against Penn . . . also played strong safety and ran track . . . born 10-18-77 . . . full name is John Delvicchio Cooper . . . enrolled in College of Arts and Letters with major in sociology . . . earned 3.083 grade-point average during '98 fall semester.
G-GS Time Rec. Yds. Avg. TD LG 1996 10-6 111:12 1 9 9.0 0 9 1997 12-2 85:49 0 0 0.0 0 0 1998 11-5 180:22 0 0 0.0 0 0 TOTAL 33-13 377:33 1 9 9.0 0 9
Solo Asst. Tot. TL-Yds. PBU FR Int. Yds. Avg. 1996 16 13 29 1-2 2 1 3 61 20.3 1997 16 10 26 0-0 0 0 0 0 0.0 1998 45-33 78 2-2 0 2 3 1 34 34.0 TOTAL 77-56 133 3-4 2 3 3 4 95 23.7
The Deke Cooper File
- The Irish offensive player who will surprise people this year is Jay Johnson
- The Irish defensive player who will surprise people this year is Donald Dykes
- The sports team I followed when I was younger was the Atlanta Falcons
- A word to describe me on the field is undescribable
- A word to describe me off the field is laid back
- Other than Notre Dame Stadium, my favorite college stadium in which to play football is Tiger Stadium at LSU
- The area I would like to improve as a football player is everything
- If I could play another position on the other side of the ball it would be wide receiver
- My greatest personal athletic moment was making the stop on fourth and goal at the end of the Boston College game in 1998
- The most stimulating class I ever took at Notre Dame was statistics
- The people who have halped me most since I have been at Notre Dame are Jesus and my family
- The top three in college football this year will be Notre Dame, Notre Dame and Notre Dame