The Mayor’s Cup featuring Temple and Villanova is certainly a big game for local college football fans. It’s also a big game for local college football players. Temple safety Daquan Cooper is one of them. Cooper, a former George Washington High star, will have a lot of family and friends coming to Lincoln Financial Field on Friday, Aug. 31, when the Owls and the Wildcats kickoff the 2012 season at 7 p.m.
“It’s a great game,” Cooper said. “When I first got here, that was actually the first game I went to at Temple. It was mind blowing. Of course, we won. It was an amazing game altogether. We have a good family here at Temple. We really work together. I’m really excited about the game. I have a lot of family from Mount Airy who will be coming down. ”
Cooper, a 6-foot, 175-pound sophomore, was a terrific player in high school. He was an All-Public League standout as a wide receiver and defensive back. Cooper was one of the top multi-talented players in the city. He actually made his college football debut during the Mayor’s Cup in Temple’s victory over Villanova.
As a freshman, Cooper gained some quality experience. He played on the kickoff and punting teams. He got a chance to play in the secondary as well. Cooper’s most impressive performance was in a win over Maryland where he had four tackles. He’s expected to receive playing time on the special teams and at safety again this year.
“I really like playing safety,” Cooper said. “I like it better than any other position I played before. Of course, I miss playing offense. I’m a defensive player at heart. I’m just working on getting my feet better and working on my keys. I’m working as hard as I can at the position.”
Cooper is very comfortable playing for the Owls. He’s in a good situation. He has a lot of teammates from George Washington High who are on the Temple team like quarterback Clinton “Juice” Granger, linebacker Brandon Chudnoff and defensive back Nate L. Smith, who starred at George Washington and Archbishop Wood.
“I really like Temple,” he said. “I think I have a greater appreciation because I’m from the city. It’s Philly. I love it here. I hope more G-W guys come to Temple.”
Cooper enjoys playing at Lincoln Financial Field. He played in the City All-Star Game at the Linc. That’s where he got a good taste of being in a big time stadium.
“I love the Linc especially since the Eagles play there,” he said. “It’s a great feeling just knowing that you’re playing on the same grass as the NFL players and you’re family comes to watch you and gets you ready for the next level.”
After the Villanova game, Temple has two non-conference games against Maryland (Sept. 8) at home and Penn State (Sept. 22) on the road respectively. The next level for the Owls will be the competition in the Big East. Temple will open its conference schedule at home against South Florida on Oct. 6.Cooper is looking forward to playing in the Big East.
“It’s a great move for us,” he said. “We’ve been working hard. I’m glad we’re in the Big East. It’s nothing but up from here.”
Temple finished the 2011 season with a 9-4 overall and 5-3 record in the Mid-American Conference East Division under head coach Steve Addazio. Temple has played in two bowl games in the last three years. Last season, the Owls won the New Mexico Bowl defeating Wyoming, 37-15.
Spring practice is a time when college football players get a chance to get in shape and prepare for the upcoming season. Temple held its annual Cherry & White Game at Lincoln Financial Field last Saturday and backup quarterback Clinton “Juice” Granger had an opportunity to showcase his talents.
Granger, former George Washington High star, completed 14-of-20 passes for 125 yards and one interception. The 6-foot-3, 220-pound junior, displayed some good mobility in the pocket and did a nice job of throwing on the run as the Cherry nipped the White, 17-10. Granger feels pretty good about what he’s been able to do this spring.
“I was able to get a knowledge of the plays,” Granger said. “They put a lot in and I wanted to master the plays. I just wanted to learn the playbook. I feel good about my ability just knowing what I have to do.”
Chris Coyer is the Owls starting quarterback. Coyer helped Temple finish with a 9-4 overall and 5-3 record in MAC play following a 37-15 win over Wyoming in the New Mexico Bowl. The ex-Public League standout gives the Owls good depth at quarterback.
Granger displayed flashes of his playing days at George Washington High in the spring game. He was a big time player in the Public League. He led GW to the 2007 league championship.
“My game has grown a lot,” Granger said. “I’m more mature. I know the position more. I’m studying film more. The game is slowing down for me. It’s a growing process.”
After his scholastic career, he played at Pierce College, a junior college in Los Angeles. In 2010, he threw for 1,176 yards and 10 touchdowns while rushing for 200 yards and tallying five TDs in seven games.
Granger is one of three players from GW on the Temple football roster. The others include wide receiver Daquan Cooper and linebacker Brandon Chudnoff. They all played for head coach Ron Cohen.
“It feels good,” Granger said. “It feels like I’m home with all these guys. I had family, friends and coaches. It’s a good atmosphere. It’s good to be back in Philly.”
Granger isn’t the only GW quarterback playing college football. Aaron Wilmer is a major star at QB for Delaware Valley College. Wilmer led GW to the 2008 Public and city championship.
“He had a big year,” Granger said. “He had an explosive, exciting year. It was something that I knew he was capable of doing. When I actually signed with Temple, he gave me a call. That was good because he supports me and I support him.”
Temple will be playing in the Big East Conference this season. The Owls will open the season with cross-town rival Villanova in the fourth annual Mayor’s Cup on Aug. 31 at Lincoln Financial Field.