On Monday, Deontae Cooper was the big story at Washington. The running back had been given clearance to practice by doctors and was on the field, grateful that fought back from two torn ACL injuries in his left knee.
“I’m just ready to strap ’em on and go, ready to grind till the doctor tells me I can’t play,” Cooper said. “If I tear my ACL five more times, I’m going to keep going.”
He was all smiles and not only were his teammates rooting for him, so was the entire Huskie community.
Then Wednesday came, and as amazing as it might sound, but Cooper went down again, during a non-contact drill. This time, it was his right knee. Torn ACL. Again.
And in that moment, heartbreak fell over the football program. And Huskie Nation.
Washington coach Steve Sarkisian posted a statement on CoachSark.com, his online blog:“
“I am saddened and dismayed to report that Deontae Cooper has torn the ACL in his right knee while participating in a non-contact drill during practice. Deontae has done everything we have asked of him, and has been an example to his teammates with his hard work in the classroom, and the dedication he showed in returning from two previous ACL surgeries in his left knee. Our football program will do everything we can to support him in this tough time.”
Tough time? Try incomprehensible time. Try no-way time. Try you’ve-got-to-be-kidding-me time.
Cooper, a redshirt sophomore listed at 6-foot, 201 pounds, had not played in a game in two years. Now, remarkably, he’s sidelined again.
On Monday, Cooper said he was optimistic about playing, but that he was taking it “ day by day. You never know. I don’t want to say anything. You never know what can happen. I want to stay positive but I don’t want to get hopes up.”
If ever there was an athlete to hope for, it is Deontae Cooper.