Eagle junior reaches the pinnacle of academic honors to go along with his bundle of accolades on the field
Whether on the field or in the classroom, Cooper Kupp is worthy of being honored at the highest levels.
The Eastern Washington University junior wide receiver received the pinnacle of collegiate academic awards Thursday (Dec. 3), earning first team NCAA Division I Academic All-America honors as selected by the College Sports Information Directors.
The 26-player squad includes teams from both the Football Championship Subdivision and Football Bowl Subdivision levels. Kupp earned second team Academic All-America honors as a sophomore.
Kupp is an economics major with a 3.54 grade point average. He is nearing completion on his degree and minor in business administration, but will continue studies in those areas through fall quarter of 2016. Earlier this fall he joined four other Eagles on the CoSIDA Academic All-District VIII team. A 4.0 student in high school, he is a 2012 graduate of Davis High School in Yakima, Wash.
"I am very grateful to receive an honor like this," said Kupp. "It's a testament to the professors here at Eastern, and to the administration and staff for placing such great importance on being a student-athlete."
Eastern football players have now earned 12 CoSIDA Academic All-America honors since 1989, including six first-team selections. Nine different players have garnered those honors, including repeat selections Kupp (2014 and 2015), Steve Mattson (1996 and 1997), and Kyler Randall (2002 and 2003).
Two other Big Sky Conference players earned first team honors from CoSIDA -- senior defensive back Cody Sorensen from Idaho State and senior defensive lineman Derek Crittenden from Montana. Sorensen is the son of EWU radio analyst Paul Sorensen.
Earlier this week, Kupp announced he would return for his senior season at EWU, amidst speculation he would leave the school and pursue opportunities in professional football. One day later, the record-breaking leading receiver in FCS was named as one of three finalists for STATS FCS Offensive Player of the Year honors.
A shoo-in to become a three-time first team All-America selection in 2015, Kupp was the 2013 recipient of the Jerry Rice Award presented to the top freshman in FCS. On his way to establishing eight Big Sky Conference records, as well as 17 school marks and seven NCAA Football Championships records, Kupp has helped Eastern win 29 games overall and 20 in the Big Sky Conference in the past three seasons. Eastern won outright Big Sky Conference championships and NCAA Football Championship Playoff berths his freshman and sophomore seasons before finishing the 2015 season 6-5 overall and 5-3 in the league.
Kupp has been joined in the Eagle program by his younger brother Ketner Kupp, a linebacker for the Eagles as a true freshman in 2015. Ketner played in all 11 Eastern games as a true freshman, finishing with 19 tackles and an interception.
Their parents are Craig and Karin Kupp, who were both inducted into the Pacific Lutheran University Hall of Fame in 2003. Karin (formerly Karin Gilmer) was a soccer player and Craig played football. Craig, who graduated from Selah (Wash.) High School, was a fifth-round draft pick by the New York Giants in 1990 and played in 1991 for the Phoenix Cardinals and the Dallas Cowboys.
Cooper's great-uncle, Jeff Kupp, lettered as an offensive lineman at Eastern from 1982-84 during EWU's transition from NAIA to the FCS (then known as I-AA). Cooper's grandfather, Jake Kupp, was an offensive lineman for the University of Washington and was drafted in the ninth round of the 1964 NFL draft by the Dallas Cowboys. He played from 1964-75 as a guard with Dallas, the Washington Redskins, Atlanta Falcons and the New Orleans Saints. Named to the NFL All-Rookie team, he later was a five-time captain for the Saints. He was named to the franchise's 25-year All-Time Team and was inducted into its Hall of Fame in 1991, the same year that Craig played in the NFL.
And Karin's father, Tom Gilmer, is also a member of the PLU Hall of Fame as a Lute quarterback and record-setting punter in the late 1950's. He is also in the Tacoma-Pierce County Sports Hall of Fame after also serving as the long-time football coach for Washington High School in Tacoma.
EWU FOOTBALL ACADEMIC ALL-AMERICA HONORS
CoSIDA Academic All-America All-Time Team: 1997 - Kurt Schulz, Defensive Back (played 1988-91)
CoSIDA Academic All-America First Team: 2015 – Cooper Kupp, Wide Receiver. 2009 - Jacob Kragt, Defensive End; 2003 - Kyler Randall, Wide Receiver; 2002 - Kyler Randall, Wide Receiver; 1997 - Steve Mattson, Defensive End; 1997 - Jeff Ogden, Wide Receiver
CoSIDA Academic All-America Second Team: 2014 – Cooper Kupp, Wide Receiver. 2012 - Jeff Minnerly, Safety; 2000 - Lance Ballew, Tight End; 1998 - Mike MacKenzie, Running Back; 1996 - Steve Mattson, Defensive End; 1991 - Kurt Schulz, Defensive Back
More About Cooper Kupp and his Honors, Records and Accomplishments . . .
Kupp – who announced Nov. 30 he will return to EWU for his senior season – is one of three players selected as a finalist for the STATS FCS Offensive Player of the Year, it was announced Dec. 1. The others are running backs -- Marshaun Coprich from Illinois State and Kade Harrington from Lamar. All three players were selected as the top offensive players by their respective leagues – Kupp from the Big Sky Conference, Coprich from the Missouri Valley and Harrington from the Southland. Kupp closed the 2015 season by catching 114 passes for 1,642 yards and 19 touchdowns. Coprich finished with 1,720 rushing yards (6.2 per rush) and 20 touchdowns, and Harrington had 2,092 yards on the ground (7.9 per rush) with 21 scores. All three have been invited to the national awards banquet and presentation, where the winner of the award will be announced Jan. 8 in Frisco, Texas - the night before the FCS national championship game. A national panel of 150 sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries voted for the STATS FCS Offensive Player of the Year, selecting the top three among 25 finalists. Their voting reflected the regular season and was conducted before the start of the playoffs.
In 2015, Kupp became only the second wide receiver in 42 years to win the Big Sky Conference Offensive MVP Award, and continued a long legacy of Eagles to win the award at the same time. Eastern players have now won the honor 11 times in the last 15 seasons, and 12 times overall. Kupp has earned first team All-Big Sky honors in each of his three seasons in the league.
Through his junior season, Kupp has established eight Big Sky Conference records, as well as 17 school marks and seven NCAA Football Championships records. His 122.4 average reception yards per game is currently a FCS career record, while his other six FCS records were set during his freshman season. His 114 catches this season broke the previous league record of 112, and ranks eighth all-time in FCS history. His average of 10.4 catches per game was also a league record (sixth all-time in FCS), to go along with six career marks he set in just three seasons – all ending with first team All-Big Sky accolades.
The 2012 graduate of Davis High School in Yakima, Wash., led FCS in five categories – receptions, receptions per game (10.4), reception yards (1,642), reception yards per game (149.3) and touchdown receptions (19). The players closest to him in FCS were eight catches, 298 yards and four TDs behind him, and in the league the next-best player for catches and yards was teammate Kendrick Bourne (73-998).
Kupp even passed for a pair of touchdowns this season and had another via punt return, giving him 58 total touchdowns scored and 60 accounted for in his 39-game career (all as a starter). In just three years, he already ranks second in FCS history in touchdown catches (56, two behind the record), second in reception yards (4,764, 486 behind the record) and fourth in receptions (311, 84 behind the record). All three marks are Big Sky records, and he also established a new league record for average catches per game (7.97), which also ranks third in FCS history.
Kupp has helped Eastern win 29 games overall and 20 in the Big Sky Conference in the past three seasons, with outright Big Sky Conference championships and NCAA Football Championship Playoff berths his freshman and sophomore seasons. Eastern had a six-game winning streak in 2015, but finished the year with a three-game losing streak and final records of 6-5 and 5-3.
Kupp and the Eagles will open the 2016 season Sept. 3, 2015, when they play at Washington State. In three career games against Pac-12 opponents, Kupp has caught 28 passes for 510 yards and eight touchdowns – including Autzen Stadium records of 15 catches for 246 yards against Oregon on Sept. 5, 2015.
Eastern follows that with games against a pair of teams playing Big Sky schools this week in the NCAA Football Championship Playoffs – North Dakota State and Northern Iowa. The Bison host Montana this week, while Portland State hosts UNI, which earlier this season edged Eastern 38-35 on Sept. 12 in Waterloo, Iowa.