Riley Cooper agrees to contract with Texas Rangers but will return to Florida Gators football team
Senior wide receiver Riley Cooper has agreed to a contract with the Texas Rangers, but will return to the Florida Gators football team for his senior season. NCAA rules allow an athlete to be a professional in one sport while maintaining eligibility in another sport.
"It was a tough decision, one of the hardest I've ever had to make, but I'm excited about being part of the Texas Ranger organization and coming back and playing football for my final season,” Cooper said in a news release. “More importantly, I'm looking forward to being around my Florida teammates
and our Gator coaching staff. We have something special going on in Gainesville and I want to be a part of that. I want to thank the Texas Rangers for allowing me to play my senior football season at Florida,
the University of Florida and especially Coach Meyer for all his patience and support during this process."
Cooper is the lone returning starting wide receiver from last year's BCS championship team. He started 12 games, averaging 18.8 yards per game.
”We are excited to have Riley back as part of our 2009 team,” UF coach Urban Meyer said in a statement. “He will be counted on heavily to be one of our go-to receivers. I’ve said numerous times during the offseason that we need someone to step up with the departure of Percy Harvin and Louis Murphy. We haven't had someone step up yet and Riley can certainly be someone that does.”
Cooper has proven to be a big-play receiver for the Gators in clutch situations. With Florida holding a 24-20 fourth-quarter lead against Alabama in the SEC Championship game, Cooper made a sliding catch in the end zone with 2:50 remaining to seal the win for Florida. His 51-yard reception earlier in the game set up another of Florida’s touchdowns. In the BCS Championship Game, he caught two passes, including a third-down conversion with a 17-yard reception on a third-and-12 situation.
"I'm glad to hear that Riley is coming back,” quarterback Tim Tebow said. “He has the ability to stretch the field and give us the ability to score from anywhere. He has made a bunch of big plays for us and I'm looking forward to hooking up with him for many more big plays."