Former Central Catholic standout Cooper LeBlanc signed a preferred walk-on offer to play college football at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette Wednesday at Central Catholic. On hand for the occasion were, seated from left, Greg Hamer Sr. and Brenda Hamer, grandparents; LeBlanc; and Valerie LeBlanc and Jay LeBlanc, parents. Standing, from left, are Greg Hamer Jr., Hugh Hamer, Central Catholic football coach Tommy Minton, Tracie Hover, Garret LeBlanc, Conner LeBlanc, Barrett Hover and John B. Hover. (The Daily Review/Corwin Murray)
LeBlanc overcomes injuries to continue football career at ULL
Hard work and dedication have become terms thrown around in today’s sport’s vernacular, but for Central Catholic’s Cooper LeBlanc, it sums up his high school football career.
LeBlanc accepted a preferred walk-on offer to play college football at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. He held a signing ceremony Wednesday at Central Catholic to commemorate the occasion.
“Every year, I’ve had some type of injury that threatened not only my football career but my later life,” LeBlanc said. “I only played one complete season, my senior year, and still managed to stay on folks’ radars.”
He said he was “thankful” to still get college coaches’ attention.
LeBlanc fought through multiple knee injuries and a severe ankle injury. All of his injuries required surgery and several months of rehabilitation.
“I didn’t want to be the kind of person that just quits what he loves to do just because an obstacle got in the way,” he said. “God gives the toughest battles to his strongest soldiers, and I truly believe that so why not me? It’s football. Injuries are going to happen.”
But LeBlanc knows he had a lot of help to get to this point.
“First of all, I’ve always been motivated by my two brothers,” LeBlanc said. “My oldest brother Connor, who played at LSU, and other brother Garrett, who plays at Nicholls State University.” LeBlanc said. “My parents also made sure that I really worked hard to continue playing, and my Dad stayed on me about my rehab. Advanced Physical Therapy and Dr. Tim Hymel really got me to where I needed to be for my senior season.”
LeBlanc, a middle linebacker, finished his senior season with 97 tackles, including 11 for loss. He forced five fumbles and recovered two.
As a senior, he was a first-team All-District 7-1A selection, a second-team Louisiana Football Coaches Association Class 1A All-State pick and an honorable mention selection by the Louisiana Sports Writers Association for its Class 1A All-State team.
LeBlanc also was an honorable mention All-District 7-1A selection as a junior at linebacker.
“He is one of the most resilient kids I’ve ever coached,” Central Catholic Coach Tommy Minton said. “Coming back from those major knee injuries and playing at the level he did last season also shows his mental toughness. But outside of the injuries he’s overcome, he’s a really good football player. We were a much better defense with him on the field.”
LeBlanc kept his preferred walk-on offer despite a coaching a coaching change at ULL. The university fired Mark Hudspeth, who was replaced by Billy Napier.
“I’m truly blessed that the new coaching staff still wanted me, because I wasn’t their recruit,” LeBlanc said.
LeBlanc said Ragin’ Cajuns coaches expect him to remain at linebacker.