Cooper Kupp played wide receiver at Eastern Washington, where he set 15 FCS, 11 Big Sky and 26 school records during his career. The FCS’ all-time leader in receiving yards, receptions, touchdown catches and yards per game, Kupp was a consensus All-American in each of his four seasons and is projected to be an early-round pick in next week’s draft. This is the sixth draft diary entry for Kupp, who is documenting his NFL draft experience at FOXSports.com.
We’re only a week away from the NFL Draft and as one of the biggest moments of my football career draws closer, it’s been both fun and comforting to spend a little time back home, tossing the pigskin with my favorite quarterback.
After staying in Cheney and working out at Eastern Washington for a week in March, my wife Anna and I made the three-hour drive west to my hometown of Yakima earlier this month. A homecoming doesn’t mean the work stops however. For most of the past two weeks, I’ve been relying on my dad, Craig, to throw to me every day.
Fortunately, my dad also happens to be a former NFL quarterback — and though he just turned 50 and has been out of the league since before I was born, he’s definitely still got it.
In fact, his arm is still so good that, at one point, I even joked that he could fill in if a team needs an emergency QB. But he insists that at his age, he dreads the thought of falling on the ground without being hit, so it seems like taking a sack is probably out of the question. (If any team needs a practice quarterback, though, I still say he’s your guy.)
Our daily routine starts at the crack of dawn each morning, hopping the fence at Zaepfel Stadium, the only place in town with a turf field, for a 6 a.m. workout before kids start class at Eisenhower High School. Although it had been a while since my dad and I took to the gridiron together, our chemistry never went anywhere, and it didn’t take long for us to get back into our familiar rhythm.
He’s also been a valuable source of advice, both on the field and off, but if anything, his most important message has been to not get caught up in the process and to just enjoy the ride. My grandpa, Jake, also spent time in the NFL — he played eight years with the Saints as an offensive guard and is in the franchise Hall of Fame — and has echoed that statement.
And while some might look at the prospect of becoming a third-generation NFL player as a stressful proposition, neither my dad nor my grandpa have ever pressured me to follow their path. So while my lineage is a huge source of pride, it’s never been my motivation. I play football and work as hard as I do because I love the game, and being able to add to our family history is just the icing on the cake.
As for their “enjoy the ride” advice, I’ve been trying to do that as much as I can, too, despite my hectic schedule, and I had a great time the other day when I played a rare round of golf with my family. I like to think I’m a pretty respectable golfer, and for one of the first times I can recall, I beat both my dad and my grandpa on the course, a bonus I definitely wasn’t expecting.
Regardless of how I played, though, it was a nice break from the routine. And considering the busy road ahead, it couldn’t have come at a better time.
Because I know my life is about to change dramatically, and after next week I don’t know when I’ll have this much time to spend with my family again, with minicamps and OTAs, training camp and my rookie year just around the corner. So while I’m looking forward to the exciting next chapter of my career, and I’m eager to get started, I’m also savoring the comforts of home while I still can.