Havelock quarterback Pharoh Cooper was ready to shift his attention to basketball and be done with football until August – or so he thought.
Cooper received an invitation to play in the Offense-Defense All-American Bowl on Sunday in Houston.
Cooper had competed in the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas Dec. 15 and took home Offensive MVP honors for the North Carolina team. The following Monday, he was in Havelock’s gym running drills with the basketball team for coach Bill Fryczynski. The next day, he made the game-winning shot at the buzzer as the Rams beat D.H. Conley.
But then Cooper got the phone call inviting him to play in the O-D Bowl whose past participants include Cam Newton and Dez Bryant, among others.
This year, Cooper will join Wilson Hunt defensive lineman Lewis Neal (LSU commit) and Porter Ridge kicker Matt Wogan (Oregon) as North Carolina players in the game.
The players are flown to Texas for a few days of festivities and then the game, much like they were for the Shrine Bowl.
Everything is scheduled for them from meals to autograph sessions and pre-game snacks.
Cooper will be competing against future college players in the contest.
“It’s exciting. I wasn’t expecting it and to be able to go down to Texas and get to play and compete against more great competition, it’s great,” Cooper said.
The senior set the school’s single-season all-purpose yardage record in leading Havelock to a 15-1 season at the state 3A championship.
“It feels good to get recognized for your play, but I couldn’t have gotten here without my teammates and coaches,” he said. “I owe a lot of credit to them and all the glory to God.”
Cooper, who has committed to play college football at South Carolina next season, said he didn’t know what position he would play in the all-star contest. However, a visit from Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier earlier this month game him the indication that he may be playing wide receiver next season.