Averaging a touchdown every 2.9 catches thus far, Eagle wide receiver is a candidate for the award presented to the top freshman in FCS by The Sports Network.
With a nose for the end zone early in his career, redshirt freshman wide receiver Cooper Kupp is already receiving notice on a national scale in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision.
The wide receiver from Yakima, Wash. (Davis HS ’12) is on the initial 20-player Watch List for the 2013 Jerry Rice Award presented annually by The Sports Network to the top freshman in FCS.
Just five games into his career, Kupp already has seven TD catches (seventh in FCS) on just 20 catches this season – a TD for every 2.9 catches so far this year. He is averaging 20.9 yards per catch, with 418 total yards.
Last week, in sixth-ranked EWU’s 41-19 win over Weber State, Kupp led the Eagles with five catches for 87 yards and a pair of first-quarter touchdowns. He had five catches for 119 yards and two touchdowns in his debut as an Eagle against Oregon State on Aug. 31.
“He has been as consistent as any young player I have seen,” said Eastern head coach Beau Baldwin earlier this season. “That is a tribute to his mental toughness. A lot of young players will show flashes, but they don’t have the consistency. That’s what we like about Cooper. We know he has talent and makes plays, but we like that he has consistent work ethic.”
Kupp spent part of the summer in 2013 working at the Manning Passing Academy as a college counselor/coach. While in high school he previously attended the camp, which is run by Archie Manning, the father of NFL quarterbacks Eli and Peyton Manning. Archie is a former New Orleans Saints teammate of Cooper’s grandfather, Jake Kupp. Jake Kupp was named to the 25-year All-Time Team for the Saints and was inducted into its Hall of Fame in 1991.
Both of his Cooper’s parents, Craig Kupp and Karin Kupp (formerly Gilmer) are members of the Pacific Lutheran University Hall of Fame after competing for the Lutes in football and soccer, respectively. Karin’s father, Tom Gilmer, is also in the PLU Hall of Fame, as well as the Tacoma-Pierce County Sports Hall of Fame.
Named for legendary wide receiver Jerry Rice, who played in the FCS (then Division I-AA) at Mississippi Valley State, the Rice Award will be voted on by a national panel of sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries following the regular season. The Rice Award Watch List can undergo revision during the season. The winner will be announced at The Sports Network FCS Awards Presentation Dec. 16 in Philadelphia.
The initial position breakdown is five quarterbacks, five linebackers, three running backs, two wide receivers, two defensive ends, one cornerback, one safety and one punter. Towson running back Terrance West won the inaugural Rice Award in the 2011 season and Villanova quarterback John Robertson received the honor last season.