Arizona tight end Michael Cooper hopes to put athletic bloodlines to use in expanded role.
By STEVE RIVERAFS Arizona
TUCSON, Ariz. -- He has a familiar sports name, but few have heard it called in Arizona Stadium.
Michael Cooper, a 6-foot-5 tight end for the University of Arizona, hopes to change that this fall.
It's not entirely up to him, of course -- unless he's called for an illegal motion or holding. But it appears the Rich Rodriguez-coached Wildcats are planning on using their tight ends than in Rodriguez's first year heading the program, which translates to more opportunity for Cooper.
Even one catch will be more than he had last year.
Cooper is ready for more. Last year he played in 12 games and had his greatest involvement on special teams, recording two solo tackles.
This being his third season in the program, he's hoping for much more.
FOXSportsArizona.com sat down with Cooper prior to the start of camp in early August.
FSAZ: What do you hope for this season? Playing time and goals?
Cooper: "My biggest goal is to be able to play. Our offense is up tempo, and we want to keep the same guys on the field. My biggest goal is to be the kind of guy my coaches want me to be, whatever that is. I'd like to play as much as possible, whether that be blocking, going after passes or doing whatever. It's whatever I can do."
FSAZ: Last year you were a backup at tight end but didn't see a lot of time. So now what?
Cooper: "Just hoping for more time. This year there is me and Terrence (Miller). I know they want to keep Terrence in a lot of the time, but I look at myself as more of the blocking back. Maybe I can run some short routes. I think I can be a big factor that way to where teams don't know if I'm blocking for a route. I know I can be effective in both."
FSAZ: Last year they didn't go to tight end at all. There were no catches. You're thoughts?
Cooper: "Well, the way I look at it is that I'm playing the same role as Taimi (Tutogi) did last year. ... I'll have my hand down sometimes (to block), it just depends on what formation the coaches want to go with. If you remember Taimi got the ball a couple of times that way. I think we'll see more production this year from the tight end."
FSAZ: Your family has some athletic history behind hit, tell me about it. You have a brother, Perry Cooper, who plays, too.
Cooper: "My brother was at UNLV (Nevada Las Vegas) but he just transferred to Murray State, so I won't get to play against him. I'm kind of bummed out (UA is scheduled to play UNLV in September)."
FSAZ: And your dad played hockey?
Cooper: "Yes, he played hockey for a year or two at Kent State. I played hockey for about six years or so, but in Texas hockey isn't big. I also played baseball, basketball and football. But my dad was really good in hockey. He grew up in St. Louis and got a scholarship and played for a couple of years."
FSAZ: And your grandfather played football at Tennessee?
Cooper: "My grandfather (John Michaels) is in the College Football Hall of Fame. He was an offensive guard at Tennessee and then went on to play with the Philadelphia Eagles before blowing out his knee. He then coached the Minnesota Vikings offensive line for 20 years. He's still around but not coaching."
FSAZ: How much advice do you get from him, being on the line?
Cooper: "When I was growing up my grandfather always gave us tips. Now that I'm a tight end he can help me a lot with my blocking technique. I'm always talking with him. My grandfather knows football front and back, offense and defense. It doesn't matter what defense it is, 3-4, 4-3. He knows everything. It's fun to talk about football with him. He knows the game very well."
FSAZ: You're a Pac-12 All-Academic guy. What do you want to get into after football?
Cooper: "I'm applying into (Arizona's) Eller College of Business and I want to get into management or marketing. If football works out or not - it's a priority though - but a fallback is getting a degree. But there is nothing specific right now."