When it came time for high school football player Cooper Dawson to choose his future school on national signing day, he turned to his best friend, Kingsley Feinman, to make the announcement for him.
“I told Kingsley I would announce it to him before anyone else,” Dawson, a three-star defensive end from Hanahan, South Carolina, said before leaning over and whispering in his grinning friend’s ear.
“He’s going to Syracuse!” Feinman exclaimed as Dawson, 18, placed an orange baseball cap on his head – a touching moment that has since gone viral.
Dawson and Feinman, who has cerebral palsy, have been best friends ever since Dawson said he “saw a kid rolling down the hallway with a big smile” as a freshman at Hanahan High School.
“I figured that was a kid I wanted to be associated with, and so I introduced myself, and we’ve been best friends ever since,” Dawson told Fox News.
And just as Dawson relied on Feinman to announce his commitment to join the Orange in January, the 18-year-old said he depended on his friend after he tore his ACL over the summer.
“It was definitely rough knowing I couldn’t play my senior year with the boys I grew up with, but Kingsley was a steady reminder that it’s not the end of the world,” Dawson said.
Feinman, too, was instrumental in helping Dawson choose where he wanted to play football. When coaches would call, Dawson said he would make sure they’d talk to Feinman so he could be “part of the process as well.”
Feinman told reporters he was going to be happy for his friend no matter what college he chose.
Before choosing Syracuse, two other hats sat in front of Dawson and Feinman: Clemson University in South Carolina and Central Florida University. Ultimately, Feinman said he picked Syracuse because the school “wanted me for the position I wanted to play."
Although the two will now be nearly 1,000 miles apart, Dawson said playing in the ACC will give Feinman plenty of opportunities to come to games when he travels back to the Carolinas to take on Clemson or Duke. And already, since their signing day moment went viral Wednesday, Dawson said someone has reached out on social media with an offer to help Feinman and his family get to the New York college to see Dawson play at home.
As he gets ready to head to college next month, Dawson said he’s thinking about the recent tattoo he got of a cross with the Bible verse Jeremiah 29:11, which says, “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”
“You don’t always know what God’s got planned for you, but you’ve got to trust what he’s doing,” Dawson said.
The verse has an extra special meaning for Dawson, as well. After he tore his ACL this summer, he needed surgery – which occurred on June 29 at 11 a.m. – merely a coincidence, he said.