Life is unfair. The game of football encapsulates that fact every season, every game, and nearly every play. Washington running back Deontae Cooper knows the unfairness of the game all too well. It was just last year that the Perris California recruit had to watch from the sidelines because of a knee injury. This past Wednesday night Huskies head coach Steve Sarkisian announced that Cooper has once again, torn his ACL and will miss the 2012 season.
On the Huskies official website, Cooper’s bio reads more like a medical history report instead of a successful rusher he was supposed to be.
Graduating early from high school so he could enroll early at UW, the first-team all-state Divsion II prospect was limited by the sky alone. In the 2010 fall camp Cooper suffered his first ACL tear. His true freshman season was spent as a redshirt. The next season was no different, as what was to be Cooper’s first year of action on the field, dissipated into another year spent on the bench because of an ACL injury.
In 2009 Cooper was the MVP of the Mountain Pass league as he rushed for 2,863 yards and 34 touchdowns. Numbers like that do not go unnoticed. In addition to being recognized in-conference, the tailback was named Inland Empire All-Area as well. For those who are not familiar with the Inland Empire, know that it constitutes the 12th most populous area in the U.S. and is ripe with big-time college talent.
This was the year that a player like Cooper could step up from behind the curtain. Running back Chris Polk left early for the NFL, meaning the position was up for grabs. Suitors were in high supply for a spot in which few had experience. Unfortunately, Cooper will not be able to compete with his teammates.
Another year will be lost for the once 10th best running back prospect in the nation. For another schedule, Cooper will have to watch other backs get a chance to live the dream of playing for an FBS program. Fate can be cruel or kind. A young man in Seattle is learning just how virulent life can be.
Within each story a lesson can be taught. Cooper’s teaching moment is to keep fighting even no matter how high the deck is stacked against. In the Seattle-Times the sophomore was quoted in a display of positivism we should all be proud of,
“Until the doctors tell me I can’t play, if I tear my ACL five more times I will keep going,” he said. “So it is what it is.”
It is what it is. What it is, is unfair. What it shows, is a reaction to a cruel misfortune, the best of us would hope to possess.