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#11 Ira Cooper
Position: Buck Linebacker
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 235
Year: Junior
City/State: Omaha, Neb.
High School: Westside

  • Signed NFL free agent contract with Minnesota Vikings

2004 (Senior)
Ira Cooper was a versatile player at linebacker and on special teams during his Husker career. He appeared in all but one game in his time at Nebraska, including four starts. He signed a professional contract with the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings in April 2005.

The Omaha, Neb., native played his entire senior campaign after receiving his degree in sociology in August 2004.

Cooper saw his most extensive action as a Husker linebacker during his senior season in 2004, setting personal bests in several categories while backing up teammate Barrett Ruud. He made three starts during the season, once for Ruud and twice for Chad Sievers at Will linebacker. Cooper ranked sixth on the team with 50 tackles, almost double his career total entering the season (31), while he also registered his first career sacks, interceptions and tackles for loss.

He finished tied for third on the team with two interceptions, including one that he returned 51 yards in the season-opener against Western Illinois, ninth in tackles for loss (six) and eighth in sacks (1.5). Along with the long interception return, he added a career-high 12 tackles against the Leathernecks.

2003 (Junior)
Cooper supplied the Blackshirt defense with a versatile player who spent practice time at all three linebacker positions. He was Hollowell's top backup at Buck linebacker and was a special teams standout for the third consecutive season.

Cooper finished the season with 12 tackles, including eight solo stops. He had a season-high three tackles each against Iowa State, Missouri and Southern Mississippi. He added a quarterback hurry in Nebraska's shutout of Iowa State and was one of the Huskers' top special teams players, specifically on coverage units.

2002 (Sophomore)
Cooper backed up Scott Shanle at Sam linebacker and played in all 14 games. Cooper earned his first career start in the Independence Bowl against Ole Miss when Shanle was ill, and Cooper responded in strong fashion. Cooper had a career-high five tackles against the Rebels and added a hurry of quarterback Eli Manning. Cooper finished his sophomore season with 12 total tackles, including four solo stops. He had three tackles in the season opener against Arizona State and also played on special teams.

2001 (Redshirt Freshman)
Cooper was a backup Sam linebacker and saw special teams action as a redshirt freshman. He finished the season with six tackles and a pair of quarterback hurries in 11 games. He also played in the 2002 Rose Bowl.

2000 (Redshirt)
A scholarship athlete, Cooper redshirted his first year at Nebraska.

Before Nebraska (Omaha Westside HS)
A two-time All-Nebraska selection, Cooper was a four-year starter for Coach Larry Morrissey at Omaha Westside. Cooper played linebacker and running back and earned first-team All-Nebraska honors from the Omaha World-Herald as a senior. He had 58 tackles, including 32 solos, and added 10 sacks and 10 other tackles for loss. On offense, Cooper rushed for 723 yards after totaling 1,578 yards and 18 touchdowns during his junior campaign, earning first-team all-state honors. He also made 37 tackles and intercepted three passes in 1998.

An honorable-mention All-American by USA Today, Cooper also ran track at Westside, winning the state title in the 300-meter hurdles in both his freshman and sophomore seasons. Cooper was contacted by Ohio State, Tennessee, Michigan, Florida State, Penn State and Notre Dame, but he only visited Nebraska.

Personal
The youngest of 15 children, Ira is the son of Harley and Edie Cooper, and was born on Sept. 30, 1981. Harley Cooper was a national Golden Gloves boxing champion in 1964, while Ira's older brother, Michael, was a 1992 All-Nebraska linebacker at Westside who went on to play at Iowa State. Ira earned his bachelor's degree in August of 2004, after majoring in sociology at Nebraska. He was a speaker during "School is Cool" Week during the spring of 2004.

Cooper's Career Statistics

.

.

Tackles

.

.

Fum.

.

.

.

QB

Int.

Year

G/S

UT

AT

TT

TFL

Sacks

C-R

BK

PBU

PI

Hry.

Csd.

2000

Redshirted

2001

11/0

1

5

6

0-0

0-0

0-0

0

0

0

2

0

2002

14/1

4

8

12

0-0

0-0

0-0

0

0

0

1

0

2003

13/0

8

4

12

0-0

0-0

0-0

0

0

0

1

0

2004

11/3

31

19

50

6-17

1.5-10

0-0

0

0

2

1

0

Totals 49/4 44 36 80 6-17 1.5-10 0-0 0 0 2 5 0









 

2002 Rose Bowl vs. Miami: Tackles, none
2002 Independence Bowl vs. Ole Miss*:
Tackles, 1 UT, 4 AT, 5 TT, 1 QB Hurry
2003 Alamo Bowl vs. Michigan State: Tackles, 0 UT, 1 AT, 1 TT

Single-Game Bests
Tackles-
 12 vs. Western Illinois, 2004
Solo Tackles- 8, vs. Western Illinois, 2004
Tackles for Loss- 1, Six times, 2004
Sacks- 1 vs. Colorado, 2004
Interceptions- 1, Two times, 2004
QB Hurries- 1, Five times