By: Tim Whelan Jr., USA TODAY High School Sports | September 29, 2017
South Gwinnett (Snellville, Ga.) defensive tackle Robert Cooper is an imposing figure on the gridiron. With that in mind, a certain family member thought he needed a special moniker.
“It was around the house, and my dad said ‘You need a nickname,’ ” Cooper recalled. “He started with some weird stuff, but then he said, ‘How about Trench Monster?’ We ran with that.”
The name, like the game, has stuck. On Friday, Cooper received his Under Armour All-America Game jersey Friday at his school as part of the American Family Insurance Selection Tour.
“Exciting is the best way to put it,” Cooper said. “It means a lot, just knowing the players that played in it, being a part of it. It’s a huge accomplishment for me.”
Cooper, a 6-2, 377-pound four-star and Florida State commit, is ranked as the No. 86 overall player and the fifth-ranked defensive tackle in the Class of 2018, according to ESPN’s recruiting rankings.
Cooper committed to the Seminoles in June 2016, before his junior season. FSU was one of 34 schools to offer him, a list that now includes Georgia, Alabama, LSU and others.
“Florida State’s been with me since the end of eighth grade. They were the first school on me,” said Cooper. “Indiana, actually, was my first offer because my brother (former Hoosiers linebacker David Cooper) went there. But Florida State’s been with me a while.”
While he has verbally committed to the Seminoles, where he will visit officially Oct. 21, Cooper still plans on making his official visits to Alabama and Georgia.
It was another SEC school, and one player in particular, that caught his eye as he was developing his love for football.
“When I was coming up, I was always a Nick Fairley guy,” Cooper said, referring to the Auburn alum and former first-round NFL Draft pick. “I came up watching a lot of him, picking up some of what he does.”
Cooper has missed several games this season with a shoulder issue, but is ready to bounce back.
“Hopefully, I can come back and make an impact,” he said, “and hopefully win defensive lineman of the year for the second year in a row.”
The Trench Monster is ready for his return.
The Under Armour All America Game is scheduled for Jan. 4 at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Fla. And will be televised on ESPN2 at 6 p.m. ET.
2018 Under Armour All America selection tour, American Family Insurance, Florida State recruiting, Florida State Seminoles, football, Robert Cooper, South Gwinnett High School (Snellville GA), Under Armour All-America Game, Under Armour All-America Selection Tour