On Friday, April 12, the Atlanta Falcons announced that they had signed former Stony Brook Football safety Chris Cooper to a two-year contract. Cooper, 25, will look to make his NFL debut after bouncing around organizations throughout 2018.
Cooper, from Mount Vernon, New York, made began his Seawolves career as a sophomore in 2015 after transferring from ASA College. In his sophomore season, he played in nine games, recording nine tackles and two interceptions. Cooper took a step forward in 2016, earning the starting safety job for all 11 games. He finished fifth on the team with 52 tackles, including at least five in nine games.
As a senior, Cooper was one of the key players on a Stony Brook team that finished 10-3 and advanced to the second round of the NCAA FCS Playoffs. He made his name known amongst scouts after recording nine tackles in the Seawolves’ Week 1 matchup against the FBS South Florida Bulls. His 88 tackles on the season were the fourth-most for the team, 9.5 of which were for a loss, and he set a career-high when he recorded 12 tackles in a Nov. 18, 2017 game against Maine. Cooper finished his Seawolves career with 147 tackles, 12 for loss, nine pass defenses and four interceptions.
Despite participating in the Tropical Bowl and running a 4.43-second 40-yard dash on Pro Day, Cooper only drew interest in the sixth and seventh rounds of the 2018 NFL Draft, and ultimately went undrafted. He signed with the Indianapolis Colts, but after suffering a concussion during the preseason, was placed on injured reserve and ultimately waived on the final day of cuts.
On Dec. 18, Cooper was signed to the Cincinnati Bengals’ practice squad only to be released before the month ended. He then signed to the Kansas City Chiefs’ practice squad on Jan. 8 for the postseason but did not end up playing in an NFL game.
Cooper faced a long road to get to where he currently is. Playing high school football for Iona Prep, he was recognized as one of the best players in New York, earning All-State awards. However, in the summer of 2013, Cooper was struck by a falling iron water pipe, suffering two broken leg bones and a back injury. Following months of rehab that prevented him from playing the sport in the fall, Cooper attended ASA College, a junior college in Brooklyn, and returned to the field in 2014.
Still yet to make his NFL debut, Cooper hopes to suit up for the Falcons and provide value for a position that was decimated by injuries in 2018. He would be the fourth Stony Brook alumni to play at the highest level of football, following Will Tye, Victor Ochi and Timon Parris.