Bassett thinks it’s his best shot at the next level. That’s why he’s gone back to his roots, making the switch to tight end — the position he played when Mike Gundy offered him a scholarship in 2008.
Had it not been for an overhauled Dana Holgorsen offense in 2011, it’s likely Bassett would have played out his Cowboy career at tight end. But as things changed, Bassett adapted and excelled. That’s why his confidence in returning to his football roots is strong, especially when he truly enjoys playing tight end.
“It was a lot of fun,” Bassett said. “I haven’t been able to play tight end for the past three years. I just feel it’s my natural-born position … Catching a pass was kind of my living for the first two years I was here. Getting that taken away, it’s not really work coming out here running routes and catching passes. I had fun out here, didn’t have any drops. So I hopefully I put on a good show for these guys.”
Bassett tested well on Tuesday — 23 bench press reps (225 pounds), 33-inch vertical leap and 9-3 broad jump.
“I was really pleased with my vertical jump,” Bassett said. “I matched my highest jump with 33 inches. I didn’t embarrass myself too bad in the 40-yard dash.
"But I think the big thing is I ran my routes clean and didn’t drop any passes. I think a lot of people expect a guy who played d-end for the past three years to have bricks for hands, so being able to adjust to the ball and bring everything in was a big thing for me.”
A number of factors led to Bassett’s decision to audition to NFL scouts as a tight end. He made strides as a defensive end last season but it was nothing to spark interest at the next level. Combine his size and strength with a natural pass-catching ability and there might be a team willing to take a chance on him.
“I’m kind of a little bit more of a controlled player,” Bassett said. “I feel that’s better for a tight end opposed to a defensive end. I feel defensive end is much more reactionary, where tight end is a little bit more controlled. Me being more of a mental guy, I definitely kind of specialize on the mental aspect of the game, I think that’s going to help me convert to tight end.
“It’s not rocket science. They explain it and I just try to absorb it as much as I can and do what they ask me to do. I think it biggest thing is, since I haven’t played tight end in the past three years, having doubts in (the scouts) minds. Just getting my name out is the biggest thing. All I need is a chance.”
Bassett had extra motivation to perform well with close family and friends sitting in the stands — including his little brother, Dawson Bassett, who will suit up for the Cowboys next season.
“It’s funny; he’ll never be a gazelle, but it’s nice seeing him look fluid and make it look natural after not doing it for so long,” said John Bassett, Cooper’s father. “We’re just enjoying watching him.”
As Bassett walked off the field on Tuesday he held a business card from the Jacksonville Jaguars. They liked what they saw and wanted to stay in touch. It’s the kind of news that makes him believe that he’s got a chance to prove the doubters wrong.
“I feel very confident if I get a shot I’ll be able to make it,” Bassett said.
For his parents, the day represented a dream they share. Whether it’s Cooper or Dawson, they hope football continues to influence their children’s lives in positive ways. And hey, if that means they get something in return, more power to them.
“I’m just hoping it might lead to early retirement,” John Bassett laughed. “I just want them to remember mom and dad.”