GAINESVILLE — Florida senior Riley Cooper said goodbye to the Swamp on Saturday.
The former Clearwater Central Catholic standout finished with three catches for 62 yards and a touchdown in Florida's 37-10 win over Florida State. It was the seventh time in 12 games this season the wideout finished with more than 55 receiving yards.
"I'm on top of the world right now," Cooper said. "To be 12-0, to beat one of our biggest rivals at home for my last game in the Swamp — there's nothing like it."
Cooper's touchdown catch came on the Gators' first possession after halftime. On first and 10 from the FSU 39-yard line, quarterback Tim Tebow faked a handoff and threw to the end zone, where Cooper outjumped cornerback Patrick Robinson.
The 6-foot-3, 215-pound receiver leads Florida with eight touchdown catches, and he has forged a special bond with Tebow, his roommate.
"Some plays he'll take a look at me and wink at me, and I know he's definitely going to come my way," Cooper said. "He's got a lot of trust in me."
All of this from someone who almost didn't suit up for the Gators this season. Cooper signed a professional baseball contract with the Texas Rangers after being drafted in the 25th round of the MLB draft in June.
Now Cooper leads Florida in receiving yards (703), and coach Urban Meyer has said he thinks Cooper is NFL-worthy.
"Everything happens for a reason. I'm glad Texas gave me the opportunity to come back and play my senior year," Cooper said. "We'll assess everything at the end and see what I'm going to do."
Cooper has gotten better every season. He had a combined 12 catches his first two years when he saw mostly special teams action before starting 12 of 14 games as a junior.
"I'm really impressed with Riley Cooper," Meyer said. "He said some really neat things in (the locker room). To see how far he's come as a football player and as a person."
When Meyer took out the entire starting offense midway through the fourth quarter, Cooper said he had a rush of mixed emotions.
"I was real happy that we won, but on the other hand, I was real sad at the same time, because that was my last play in the Swamp ever," Cooper said. "I love the place."