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The latest on college sports in Florida

Florida receiver Riley Cooper officially signs contract with Texas Rangers



Cooper Florida receiver Riley Cooper officially signed his professional baseball contract with the Texas Rangers on Friday afternoon, ending weeks of negotiations and trying to decide whether he would be able to play out his final season at Florida.

Cooper's father, Larry Cooper declined to give specific details on the amount of the contract. But according to Baseball America, Cooper received a $250,000 signing bonus, paid in full, not spread over multiple years which is common with two-sport athletes. That's $100,000 more than MLB’s recommended maximum for players selected after the fifth round.

Cooper was a 25th round selection in the MLB Draft by the Rangers. Because NCAA rules prohibit an athlete from being a professional in one sport and on scholarship in another, Cooper is no longer on a football scholarship and the Rangers will play for him to attend Florida.

"It was a great day, it was exciting for our family,'' Larry Cooper told the Times shortly after his son signed the contract. "Through a lot of hard work, Riley has finally accomplished a huge goal he's had since he was a kid. He officially signed, so he's got the best of both worlds now - UF football and now he's got a professional baseball contract. It's a dream come true.''

Cooper will report to the Rangers organization no later than March 1. His father said he most likely will start his career in Spokane, Washington. The Rangers will own Cooper's rights for up to seven years. Cooper has two insurance policies, his father said, which are allowed by NCAA rules in the event Cooper received an injury that ends his career.

The baseball career may not mean the end of Cooper's football dreams. When I asked Larry Cooper if Florida's last football game this season will be his son's last football game, he said not necessarily.

"We haven't crossed that bridge yet,'' Larry Cooper said. "I think all those things will shake out toward the end of the year.''


[Last modified: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 1:11pm]


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