With 6:09 left in the 1996 Orange Bowl, Andre Cooper snagged his third touchdown, setting an Orange Bowl record, solidifying a school one, and for good measure, earning a victory over Notre Dame for the second straight year in a row.
Those three touchdowns gave the Jacksonville product 18 on the season, enough to pad on to 15 he scored in the regular season to separate him from the rest of Florida State’s receivers since.*
*(technically, his record stands at 15, which was matched by Kelvin Benjamin in 2013, but that’s without counting Cooper’s three touchdowns in the Orange Bowl, which doesn’t really make sense, but that’s college football, and it makes as much sense as this run-on sentence going on for as long as it has, within parantheses no less.)
Part of the 1993 recruiting class, Cooper came out of Fletcher High as USA Today’s football player of the year, as well as the runner-up for the title of Florida’s Mr. Basketball (he’d play a few games at FSU before focusing solely on football). As a freshman, he contributed sparingly for the eventual national champions, appearing in five games (blowouts vs. Kansas, Georgia Tech, Virginia, Clemson and NC State) and catching eight balls for 111 yards.
In 1994 Cooper took a step up as a touchdown threat, leading the team in scores with five despite trailing team leader Kez McCorvey (who had 870 yards) by 511 receiving yards, but it was nothing compared to what was set to come the year after.
Five times, Cooper registered over 100 yards (182 vs. Maryland, 155 vs. Duke, 116 vs. Virginia, 114 vs. NC State, 103 vs. Georgia Tech). Six times, he had multiple touchdowns (3 vs. Notre Dame and NC State, 2 vs. Duke, Miami, Georgia Tech and Maryland). He became one of 12 Seminoles ever to record over 1,000 yards receiving in a single season, and he broke Barry Smith’s then-23-year-old record of 12 touchdowns in a season with two games left to go.
With a new quarterback under center in 1996 (you might have seen his own entry in our countdown earlier) Cooper’s production dipped, and a second national championship eluded him with a loss in the Sugar Bowl despite an undefeated regular season.