UW’s Cooper continues to impress this spring

SEATTLE — The more the University of Washington football team sees of Deontae Cooper, the more he continues to impress.

Still a few months from officially beginning his freshman season, the running back from Perris, Calif., is making quite a case for serious playing time in the fall. Cooper was the star of another spring scrimmage on Saturday, breaking two long touchdown runs while rushing for 114 yards.

“The overall package that he’s bringing makes him a really exciting player for us,” head coach Steve Sarkisian said after the Huskies wrapped up their second scrimmage of the spring Saturday afternoon. “… All the things that we were hoping to get out of him are exactly what he’s bringing.”

Cooper brought the two biggest highlights of Saturday’s session, going untouched on a 29-yard touchdown run on the second drive and following that up with a 52-yard score on short yardage on the next drive.

The scrimmage included 13 drives, and just three of the possessions resulted in touchdowns. Quarterback Jake Locker hit receiver Jermaine Kearse on a 28-yard score to go along with the Cooper touchdowns, but otherwise UW’s offense generally struggled under all three quarterbacks.

Backup quarterback Keith Price outplayed freshman Nick Montana during the session, particularly on the final drive of the day. Price hit Luther Leonard on three consecutive passes but eventually misfired on fourth down to end the practice.

Despite the early long runs, the UW defense had a pretty impressive showing.

“As we played more snaps, we got better and better and better,” defensive coordinator Nick Holt said. “So it was good. It was good on both sides.”

Locker completed 11 of 22 passes for 146 yards and the touchdown, while Price was 6-of-10 for 84 yards. Montana, a freshman who enrolled early in school last month, was 3 of 10 for 21 yards in windy conditions.

Cooper, who also enrolled early, took advantage of an extensive workload while starter Chris Polk (shoulder) and fellow freshman Jesse Callier (knee) sat out with injuries. Cooper had 114 yards on 12 carries, including the two touchdowns.

“It gives you a little more swagger,” running backs coach Joel Thomas said of Cooper’s early success at UW. “He has every reason to have it right now. He had a successful career in high school, and he’s done a very nice job here in spring ball. Now, obviously, it’s got to translate to the two-a-days, but he’s got something to build on right now.”

Several players did not participate in the scrimmage, including Polk, Callier, cornerback Desmond Trufant (groin), defensive tackle Alameda Ta’amu (academic issue), wide receiver D’Andre Goodwin (hamstring) and safety Nate Fellner (swollen knee).

The Huskies’ official, end-of-spring scrimmage is Friday night under the lights of Husky Stadium.

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