Cooper Kupp didn’t just have strong wide receiver traits or work ethic during his days on the red turf at Eastern Washington University.
The football IQ stored inside the Los Angeles Rams wide receiver’s brain cells was also well above average from what his college football head coach recalls.
And Beau Baldwin, who is now the head football coach at Cal Poly on California’s Central Coast, told Heavy on Rams that Kupp was so smart and highly motivated, that he was teaching everyone — including Baldwin and the Eagles coaching staff.
“Oh yeah. No question. As a staff, we learned things from him,” Baldwin said. “I joked with that with our staff. I mean, just how mature this guy is.”
Kupp’s Above Average Work Ethic
Kupp showed up on the campus not yet growing into his now 6-foot-2, 208-pound NFL frame.
Yet, right away, Kupp began implementing a “leader-by-example” attitude at Cheney, Washington. Baldwin reflects back on how Kupp was strong in how he approached his work and others, including coaches.
“He wasn’t just leading his team and leading that, there was people seeing how he operated and how he communicated with people 24-7, and you’d learn something from him,” Baldwin said. “He was definitely a leader-by-example and still is today.”
Kupp went the watch-and-learn route in year one of his college campaign: The 2012-13 season which was his redshirt year. But from there, he was leading everything for EWU — from his teammates, to coaches, to every wide receiver statistical category.
Kupp’s Dominance Shattered Records in College
His first full season at EWU? Kupp hauled in 93 catches for 1,691 yards and scored 21 touchdowns. But Kupp and EWU witnessed a trajectory on the receptions front.
The following year, Kupp snatched 104 catches. Then in 2015 he collected 114. And in his last season on the red field: 117 grabs, all per the EWU football site.
Also per EWU, Kupp went on to shatter the following:
- 15 Football Championship Subdivision records.
- 11 Big Sky Conference marks.
- 26 school records.
Kupp used his workmanlike approach and maturity to leave EWU — let alone the same FCS realm where Hall of Famers Jerry Rice and Terrell Owens once dominated cornerbacks — as one of the most dominating receivers to ever grace a college football field.
And Baldwin’s aerial assault wasn’t just Kupp as the sole focus. He had another NFL receiver who teamed with Kupp.
“We were fortunate to have great receivers at Eastern Washington. He was teammates with Kendrick Bourne (now with the New England Patriots). I had some really great receivers in my three years at Cal and we’re working on developing great receivers here at Cal Poly,” Baldwin said.
Baldwin witnessed the rapid growth before Kupp sprouted into becoming the league’s triple crown winner at wide receiver. And he’s impressed by his continued spurt.
“Regardless, just seeing how he’s continuing to grow — I never thought that he would grow much more as a person and who he is of the field. And he just seems to continue to grow and grow and grow,” Baldwin said. “I’m just excited for him to obviously go after a championship. I’m excited for him to be recognized throughout the country. As good as a receiver he is and he’s an amazing football player, he’s that much better as a person. I think more and more people are now beginning to see the authenticity of who he is.”
Baldwin, though, admits that it’s been hard for him to find his next Kupp-like receiver. Then again, he’s not the only NCAA Division-I college football head coach who hasn’t discovered a receiver who can nearly mimic the dominance and maturity Kupp showed during his EWU days.
“There’s a part of him that’s in a class all by himself. Not just as a receiver, but as an overall football player. He’s in a different class,” Baldwin said.