Survivor found clinging to the vessel is former USF player Nick Schuyler

Published on March 2, 2009 by     Seahawk Fanatic

boat

CLEARWATER, Fla. — The Coast Guard said Monday that the overturned boat it found off Florida’s Gulf Coast belongs to Oakland Raiders linebacker Marquis Cooper. The survivor found clinging to the vessel is former University of South Florida player Nick Schuyler.

The Coast Guard said Cooper, free-agent defensive end Corey Smith and another former USF player, William Bleakley, remain missing.

Television video showed Schuyler being helped from a Coast Guard helicopter at Tampa General Hospital. He appeared conscious.

The Coast Guard had been searching for the four men since they were reported missing early Sunday morning, one day after they left on a fishing trip. As of Monday morning, the Coast Guard had searched 16,000 square miles off Florida’s Gulf Coast for the 21-foot Everglades-manufactured boat.

Everglades boats are built with compressed foam encased in Fiberglas, which makes them difficult or impossible to sink.

Family members believed the men had lifejackets and flares on board. The Coast Guard hadn’t received a distress signal from the men.

Cooper owns the boat, and he and Smith, who were teammates with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2004, have been on fishing trips before, according to Ron Del Duca, Smith’s agent.

Coast Guard Capt. Timothy M. Close said at least one of the men was an experienced boater, and relatives provided the Coast Guard with GPS coordinates from previous fishing expeditions.

Smith, 29, of Richmond, Va., is 6-foot-2 and 250 pounds and had 30 tackles, including three sacks and one interception in 12 games last season for the winless Detroit Lions.

Cooper, 26, is 6-foot-3 and 230 pounds and has spent five seasons with five different teams, appearing in 26 games with the Buccaneers in 2004 and 2005, but he has played sparingly since. He grew up in Gilbert, Ariz., and his father, Bruce, is a prominent sportscaster for KPNX-TV in Phoenix.

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