Notebook: Cooper deals with foot injury


Published: Tuesday, August 7, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, August 7, 2007 at 1:09 a.m.

The pain is almost gone for Riley Cooper.

The Florida sophomore wide receiver said Monday he is close to 100 percent after missing spring drills with a painful foot injury, one he played through nearly all of last season.

"It's basically gone," Cooper said. "The doctors have said I've almost overcome it."

Cooper said he first began to experience pain in both of his big toes during last year's Tennessee game. As the season wore on, the pain got progressively worse.

Still, he battled through it, forcing a fumble on the opening kickoff of the second half of the LSU game and catching three touchdown passes six weeks later in a rout of Western Carolina.

"I played through it," Cooper said. "It was hurting."

Doctors weren't sure what Cooper's injury exactly was. But he said they believed it was closely related to turf toe. Nonetheless, it made for a painful and frustrating freshman season for the 6-foot-3 receiver.

"My heart bleeds for him," coach Urban Meyer said. "He's got like a toothache in his foot. They wish they could fix it. It's a very unusual injury. It's really taken a toll on him."

On Monday evening, Cooper looked like the player who earned first-team all-state honors at Clearwater Central Catholic, catching a long pass down the sideline during offensive drills.

Afterward, Cooper admitted that he has a long way to go to regain his form.

"I'm probably running routes a little slow right now," he said. "I haven't run one since Jan. 8, so it's really slow."

James pleads no contest

Sophomore running back/kick returner Brandon James pleaded no contest to charges of misdemeanor possession Monday. James was sentenced to 10 hours of community service to pay court costs of $226.

James was arrested along with then-Florida basketball player Brandon Powell in June after allegedly buying marijuana in a reverse sting.

James has already been suspended by Meyer for Florida's Sept. 1 season opener against Western Kentucky.

Pupello may be on way out

Redshirt freshman Trent Pupello was not at practice Monday afternoon and may be seeking to transfer from Florida.

Meyer said he was "not sure" if Pupello was still with the team after practice.

Pupello, of Tampa Jefferson, moved from tight end to defensive end in the spring. On the first day of preseason camp Sunday, he was moved back to tight end.

Extra points

Meyer said quarterback John Brantley isn't the only freshman who has impressed him. Meyer said wide receiver Deonte Thompson, of Belle Glade, and safety Major Wright, of St. Thomas Aquinas, have also been sharp. ... After an inconsistent opening day of practice, quarterback Tim Tebow looked sharp Monday. "Tebow looks really good," Meyer said. "He ran the two-minute drill well today. (Sunday) he was kind of rusty. Today he came out and threw the ball much better." ... Florida is still waiting to see if Lincoln Financial will pick up its season opener. If it does, the game would be moved to 12:30 p.m. from 6 p.m. ... Florida will practice in pads tomorrow from 5:50 p.m. until 8 p.m. at the UF Practice Field. The workout is open to the public.

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