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Quarterback Zerrick Cooper fires a pass to a receiver. The JSU Gamecocks started spring football practice Monday morning at JSU Stadium as they prep for what they hope will be another successful season. (Photo by Trent Penny)

JACKSONVILLE — Zerrick Cooper spent this past fall setting records as Jacksonville State's starting quarterback.

Starting all 13 games, Cooper threw 3,416 yards and 32 touchdowns, both of which are new JSU single-season marks. He made All-Ohio Valley Conference, even though the Clemson transfer was just a sophomore and in his first season in the league.

So, what does somebody like Cooper want to do this spring? What goals does he have as he prepares for his junior year?

"I got 13 games under my belt last year," he said. "So, I'm more confident in myself to go out there and read defenses and make more plays.

"I gave the ball to playmakers when it was time to. I just did my job. I did everything a quarterback should do, but I've got things to work on, like read defenses, throw a better ball. That's why we have spring ball and the off-season."

After the Gamecocks completed their third practice of the spring Friday, Cooper agreed to outline five goals he has this spring for himself and the team:

1. Help the new guys

Spring practice is a time of transition, as last season's seniors are gone and new players join the roster, including walk-ons who coaches must evaluate and decide whether to keep.

That's on Cooper's mind these days, and he wants to help: "Since we've got a lot of new guys, like walk-ons, who have never experienced the game of football at the collegiate level, I'd like to get them knowing the playbook. At least learn the plays."

2. More progress

Last season, Jacksonville State won nine games, took its fifth straight OVC championship and reached the fifth round of the FCS playoffs. Cooper wants to see the team build off that.

"The returning team from last year, I'd like us to just progress on the things we did last year," he said.

3. Leadership

As a second-year starter, Cooper wants to show more leadership. It usually isn't his style to talk a lot in practice, but he said he's trying to change so he can help the team more.

"I want to become more of a vocal leader," he said. "I'm kind of laid back, not in the spotlight as much. That's a goal for me personally."

4. Build the team

Cooper figures that building the 2019 Gamecocks already is well underway, and he wants that to continue this spring.

"Building the team as one unit is a goal," he said. "Even if the offense is out there making plays, we still rely on the defense to make plays to get us back on the field. We're all one unit."

5. Enjoy the game

For his fifth goal, it's pretty simple: "Have fun."

"Every player should have fun in the game of football, which they love," he said.

Sports Editor Mark Edwards: 256-235-3570. On Twitter: @MarkSportsStar.

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