Harlem’s James Cooper Jr. recognized by Chicago Bears

Published: Apr. 6, 2021 at 12:04 AM CDT
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MACHESNEY PARK, Ill. (WIFR) - James Cooper Jr. is on a mission to lead Harlem to a NIC-10 title in football. The senior quarterback is already one of the most prolific passers in the conference, now he’s becoming a dual threat QB. Even the Chicago Bears have taken notice.

Cooper was recognized by the Bears Outreach program as its high school all-star for his Week 2 performance against Freeport. Cooper threw for three touchdowns and ran for three more in the victory. On Monday, he received a customized NFL football showcasing his outing against the Pretzels. This past weekend, Cooper accounted for another six touchdowns (five passing, one rushing) against Belvidere North.

“Actually, I wasn’t expecting it, I guess,” said Cooper. “To find out I got it, it means a lot. Especially with the cool football I received. Especially being hand painted, and a real NFL ball, it means a lot.”

“His numbers are unreal,” said Gustavo Silva, Chicago Bears manager of Youth Football and Community Programs. “I think in Week 3 he had just as big a week as he did in Week 2, the week that he won. So I was joking with him saying if he didn’t win in Week 2, he probably would’ve won in Week 3. He’s a humble, hard-working young man.”

While the program honors athletes for their showing on the field, it also takes into consideration what they do off it. The Bears will donate $500 to a youth organization of Cooper’s choice, which was in easy one for him to make.

“I chose Harlem Middle School because they did a lot for me and developing me in who I am. A lot of the teachers from that school, honestly, changed my life, I would say. Because they were really good influences on me, made sure I did the right things, made the right decisions and everything along those lines. And especially having some of those coaches from that coaching staff, follow through my high school career and even some of them being on the coaching staff at the high school now, it means a lot.”

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