'Don't sleep' on UW RB Deontae Cooper

SEATTLE -- Deontae Cooper walked over to face the media for the first time since suffering his third ACL injury early in fall camp.

He was still smiling. His message was simple.

“Don’t sleep on me,” he said.

The 6-foot, 201-pound sophomore admitted a few tears welled in his eyes when he first heard the news that, after back-to-back left-knee injuries ended his 2010 and ’11 seasons, he had suffered a third, this one to his right knee during a non-contact drill.

But any self-pity was fleeting.

“I’ll be all right,” he said.

Cooper said he suffered the injury when he planted his right leg while making a cut on Monday. He thought he hurt his calf. After two knee injuries, he didn’t think much of a sore calf. As time went on, though, the pain shifted to his knee. An MRI revealed the tear.

Even after everything he has been through and the surgery and rehab that awaits, Cooper is already planning his return.

“I’m going to be fine,” Cooper said. “I’m going to rehab hard, like I did the other two, and I’m going to be right. I’m going to be physically in shape and ready to go next year.”

There is no doubt in his mind he will return to the field. It is still hard, but he is still smiling.

“As soon as I get this surgery, I’m going to be ready to go, ready to train and get right,” Cooper said.

“It’s unfortunate luck. I can’t be unlucky forever. I’m going to catch a break sooner or later.”