As part of Full Press Coverage’s NFL Draft profile series, we are proud to showcase Dixie State University Cornerback, Tyneil Cooper. On the eve of his Pro Day workout (to be held on March 27, 2018, at Southern Utah University), I had the privilege of speaking with him about his background, his athletic prowess and the road that lies ahead.
Getting to Know Tyneil Cooper
Cooper is a native of Providence, RI, and was a standout on the gridiron at Hope High School. After graduating from Hope, Cooper attended Dean College, where he played in four games as a freshman in 2014. For his 2015 sophomore season, he transferred to Grossmont College, where he played in eight games. In 2016, however, Cooper finally found his college home. He started in nine games as a junior in 2016 after transferring to NCAA Division II school, Dixie State University. In his two-year career as a Dixie State Trailblazer, Cooper recorded a total of 61 tackles, 1 interception, and 17 pass breakups, to go along with an All-RMAC first-team selection in 2016, and an All-RMAC honorable mention selection in 2017 (per NFL Draft Diamonds.) Cooper consistently plays bigger than his frame (5’9″,180lbs). He is noted for his footwork, fluid hip movement, and ball skills. His best fit within a pro roster will most likely be at the nickel/slot cornerback position, or on special teams.
Tyneil, in his Own Words
Q: What type of player will an NFL Team be getting in Tyneil Cooper?
Cooper: Although I am considered an undersized corner, I feel that I can bring a great combination of speed and strength to an NFL roster. I am a guy that can play outside corner as well as inside, so I’m versatile. That enables me to also make contributions on special teams in the return game. I have a strong work ethic and I work hard to be the best player I can be, and try to help my team win.
Q: As you look at this past season at Dixie State, what experiences will you be taking with you as you prepare for a career as a professional football player?
Cooper: Professional football can be a tough business. I have faced a great deal of adversity throughout my playing career so far, and I feel prepared to handle any situation. I always train to be the best. However, I always prepare to protect myself for the worst. Being a Dixie State Trailblazer has helped me in so many ways. It taught me discipline and an appreciation for my craft. I will take with me the lessons that I have learned at Dixie State more than any individual memory.
Q: What are some of the athletic attributes that will help Tyneil Cooper stand out from the rest?
Cooper: I believe that the 40-yard dash will set me apart. I am confident that I will bring a great deal of speed to my workouts. I am personally looking forward to the speed drills and position drills..especially the three-cone and the pro agility. I have been working very hard at getting good breaks and being fluid in my backpedal. If I can do that, I hope to show everyone that I can be a complete defensive back at the pro level.
Q: Southern New England football players have traditionally faced an uphill battle for attention leading into the NFL Draft. How has your experience growing up in Providence, RI and your time at Dixie State helped to shape your work ethic as you begin your pro career?
Cooper: I would say that it all begins at home. Like it was yesterday, I can remember my mom taking me for my first football sign-ups when I was about 5-6 years old. All through my childhood, I continued to work my way up. That is a work ethic that I inherited from my mom. As a single parent, raising six children, I give her all the glory. She has always been there for me and my siblings…putting our needs before her own. While so many have struggled to maintain a ‘straight and narrow’ lifestyle, I have been fortunate to do so because of the support I had at home and at school. Coming from Rhode Island, I have dealt with the skepticism. It just gives me more motivation. Rhode Islanders might be underdogs, but I choose to follow in the footsteps of guys like Jamie Silva, Lorenzo Perry, and Will Blackmon to name a few. BY spending the last couple of years at Dixie State, I was fortunate to build upon that background and find myself as a football player. Regardless of where I’m from, however, I just consider it a blessing to be here, and I give all the glory to God and, of course, my Mom.
Q: Last but certainly not least, how are you feeling heading into Pro Day on March 27?
Cooper: I’m definitely excited. While I’m thankful for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, I’m striving for the best possible outcome. That’s what I always do. I just want to put my best foot forward and hopefully, the scouts will see the best possible version of Tyneil Cooper on that Pro Day field on Tuesday.
–Mike D’Abate is a Managing Editor, covering the New England Patriots and an NFL National Columnist for Full Press Coverage Sports Media. Follow him on Twitter at @mdabateFPC