Every day here at Your Best 11, we are counting down to the start of the regular season with our top 150 players for the 2012 season.
No. 122: Jonathan Cooper, No. 64, North Carolina, Guard
After redshirting in 2008, Jonathan Cooper began his career starting for the Tar Heels at the guard position. Cooper was on the All-ACC Freshman Team in 2009.
In 2010, Cooper was an All-ACC second team guard as the Tar Heels pushed to a Music City Bowl win over the Tennessee Volunteers. The 2011 campaign saw Cooper repeat as a second team All-ACC guard for a Tar Heels team that finally got the 1,000 yard rusher that had eluded them since 1997.
Cooper is a big body. At 6'3", 310 pounds he is a mauler on the offensive line who gets after the opponent and has bad intentions in doing so. He attacks the opposition, runs well with respect to pulling and hitting moving targets and he's physically strong enough to move bodies.
In pass protection, Cooper is more than capable in the interior of the scheme. His time at center helped him better understand angles and get off the ball quicker and at the guard position he has excelled. He stays low, works his pad level for leverage and has a solid punch out of his stance.
Entering his senior season, the entire program for the Tar Heels has changed. Cooper has lost weight and the senior is as slim as he has been going into the 2012 season.
The biggest issue for the senior will be getting healthy. He missed time in the spring recovering from offseason shoulder surgery and now he goes into summer trying to get healthy. The Tar Heels need a healthy Cooper to take all of the reps he can in the new offense as the scheme has switched from John Shoop's methodical approach to Larry Fedora's high-tempo scheme.
There are a lot of question marks about how North Carolina's offensive personnel will take to the new offense. Cooper is a key part of this as Gio Bernard looks to make it back-to-back 1,000 yard seasons. Although Cooper missed time in the spring, he enters 2012 with experience that will be invaluable to Larry Fedora's campaign.
He is the leader on that offensive line, and in the new look scheme players will turn to the man with 35 career starts when things get hairy. This should be the year that Cooper breaks through the ceiling to get to the All-ACC First Team, there were some key departures at his position and he is poised to move up to the top of the league.