Clemson's Scotty Cooper quits team to heal

Clemson senior linebacker Scotty Cooper has decided to give up football due to a neck injury, the school announced on Monday. Cooper started six games over the past three years and was a backup strongside linebacker behind Quandon Christian entering August practice.

“Scotty has had problems with a nerve in his neck and the only way to solve the problem is to not hit anyone,” coach Dabo Swinney said, according to the team's practice report. “Scotty is a violent player who hits people when he plays this sport, and the only way he can get better is to give up football.

“This is a big loss for us because we counted on him making plays for our defense at the linebacker position. But his health is much more important. He will stay with our program as a student coach the next two years. He aspires to go into the coaching profession, so this will be a good way for him to learn.”

Cooper has had neck problems in spring practice and fall camp since first suffering an injury at Maryland last year. Last year he played in 12 of the 14 games, but suffered a neck injury at Maryland that limited him the rest of the season. He was Clemson's top special teams player in the ACC Championship game against Georgia Tech.

Daniel Andrews is now the backup at that position as the Tigers enter the final two weeks of preparation for the season opener with North Texas on Sept. 4.

Andre Branch (virus), DeAndre Hopkins (shoulder) and Rod McDowell (concussion) returned to full strength for Monday’s practice.