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Houston Texans Sign Nigerian Offensive Lineman With Inspiring Story

Sam Cooper is soup for the soul.

Sam Cooper (77) pictured at Merrimack College in Massachusetts
Eagle-Tribune

On Wednesday, the Texans signed offensive lineman Sam Cooper to their practice squad.

While most practice squad signings don’t usually bring up a discussion, Cooper is an exception. It’s been a long journey for the former Merrimack College standout, and things are finally starting to pay off.

Cooper was born in Nigeria, but it’s not where his family originally came from. They were forced to flee Liberia the year before he was born due to civil war. Cooper and his family eventually found themselves in Pennsylvania, with the hopes of making a better life in the United States. Unfortunately, not everything went the right way.

Cooper’s brother, Hassan, was diagnosed with a form of terminal cancer. Before Hassan’s death, Cooper promised him that he would become a professional athlete. Three years later, Sam’s father was murdered in a case that remains unsolved. He had stayed behind in Africa to take care of the family’s aviation business; because he was making a nice profit doing so, Cooper believes the person who committed the crime was jealous.

Cooper spent three years at the University of Maine before transferring to Merrimack in 2018. In 2021, he was invited to the Hula Bowl and the Tropical Bowl. Both games went well, and Cooper eventually signed with the Baltimore Ravens as an undrafted free agent. He was cut at the end of the preseason and has worked out with a few teams since then.

Now, Cooper has found himself in Houston, with another opportunity to make an impact.