By BRANDON RICHARDSON
With his father on his left and mother on his right, Mill Creek offensive lineman Connor Cooper signed his letter of intent to play football as a Bearcat at McKendree University this fall.
“[My goals for the next level] are championships,” said Cooper.
Cooper received high praises from his coaches and a lot of love from his teammates.
“Connor always did what I asked of him,” said offensive coordinator Josh Lovelady.
Head Coach Shannon Jarvis also complimented Cooper for his efforts on and off the field.
“Connor was recruited for his academics, along with what he did on the field,” Jarvis continued, “[Connor] is an example of dedication. It was clear that he wanted to play at the next level for at least the past three years. His dedication showed that.”
Cooper mimicked his coaches saying that his dedication was the biggest reason that he has the opportunity to play football at the collegiate level.
McKendree University is the oldest college in Illinois. The university is a private Division II school located in Lebanon, Illinois. The city is located a little less than an hour from St. Louis and is home to about 3,500 people. Cooper committed despite the distance.
“When I visited [McKendree University], it just felt like home. There was nothing to complain about and I enjoyed the visit.”
According to his father Brett Cooper, despite going to a Division II school, Mckendree University believes they got a Division I prospect. Cooper says one of the biggest reasons his son was recruited by the university was for the speed he brought to the offensive line.
Cooper will look to bolster an offensive line that only gave up 16 sacks last season. He started on an offensive line for a team that produced over 5,800 yards and will surely be missed by MCHS.
Where most incoming freshman struggle to get on the field their first year, the bigger issue for Cooper is which position he will play.
“Connor is a great offensive lineman that comes to us from Georgia. He is the type of player who can play any position on the line. I love that he is athletic [enough] to get to defenders in space. He’s also great at being physical and putting guys on their backs,” said McKendree Head Coach Mike Babcock.
Babcock was introduced as the university’s head coach last December after spending his last 5 years as the quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator at Colorado State University-Pueblo. McKendree University is one of eight football members of the Great Lakes Valley conference. The Bearcats finished 3 – 7 this past season. This upcoming season will be the second full season of football for the GLVC.