Midway through his third NFL season, Amari Cooper will take the field in Miami for the first time in an NFL uniform. No doubt it’s a moment he dreamed of as a kid growing up, but back then he probably envisioned himself in the uniform of his favorite team.
“Yeah, it’s always been a dream to play in Miami, whether it was for Miami or against them, just to play in front of my hometown at the highest level,” Cooper said this week.
Hearing Coop talk about his favorite Dolphins players reminds you just how young he is. Most notably, the 23-year-old said he was too young to have seen Dan Marino in a Dolphins uniform. Marino’s final NFL season was 1999 when Coop was 5 years old.
“I had a couple different favorites,” said Cooper. “Everybody used to like Ricky Williams. Of course he was a great player. Chris Chambers because I’m a receiver. Zach [Thomas], Jason Taylor.”
There are a few Dolphins players who remain on the team since Cooper was still actively a fan. Cameron Wake has played for the Dolphins since Cooper was a sophomore at Miami Northwestern High School. Safety Reshad Jones joined the team a year later, and center Mike Pouncey a year after that when Cooper was a high school senior.
The 4-star high school prospect turned down offers from Miami and Florida State and headed to Alabama for college, where he went on to be an All SEC performer and unanimous All-American for the Crimson Tide
Back in the 2015 draft, the Dolphins wouldn’t get the chance to bring Amari home. The Biletnikoff Award winner was scooped up by Raiders with the 4th overall pick.
The Dolphins had the 14th overall pick in that draft and they selected Louisville wide receiver DeVante Parker who, as it happens, is returning this week after missing the past two games. Parker was the third wide receiver taken in that draft.
Over his first two NFL seasons, Cooper has had over 1000 yards receiving each season and been named to Pro Bowls both seasons. He has made his family and friends in Miami proud. Now he is bringing his talents to South Beach (so to speak) for the first time since hometown boy made good. No pressure.