Ex-Head Coach of Rams’ Cooper Kupp Says WR Hasn’t Changed

Cooper Kupp

Getty Cooper Kupp catches a pass during the NFC championship game won by him and the Rams on Sunday, January 30.

The Cooper Kupp you see thrashing defensive coverages throughout the 2021 season for the Los Angeles Rams? One man saw that already way before Kupp’s NFL days.

The 6-foot-2, 200-pounder who became the league’s triple crown winner in leading the NFL in receptions, yardage and touchdown catches this past season? One coach witnessed the same dominance.

Finally, the thin wide receiver from Yakima, Washington who never had his cell phone ring with Power 5 college coaches — especially from in-state Pac-12 programs Washington and Washington State — telling him he’s got a scholarship offer from those schools? One leader of a Big Sky Conference program got a glimpse of how under-recruited Kupp was.

That man who got the first front row seat to Kupp’s rise and dominance is Cal Poly head football coach Beau Baldwin — better known as Kupp’s former college football coach at Eastern Washington. And Baldwin reflected on Kupp’s early years in a conversation with Heavy on Rams on the morning of Wednesday, February 2.

“It’s funny watching him. He’s doing the same things he was doing for us at Eastern,” Baldwin said by phone. “And he’s doing a lot of the things he was doing when we were evaluating him in high school.”

Kupp in High School

Kupp was discovered by Baldwin and the EWU staff at A.C Davis High School, located in Yakima’s east side and approximately three hours west in driving distance from where Baldwin and his coaches were evaluating him.

Davis wasn’t exactly considered a state of Washington powerhouse in the high school scene. The Pirates football program once endured back-to-back winless seasons in 2004 and 2005. Then, from 2006 to 2008, the Pirates had only won a combined two games.

That was before Kupp showed up on campus as a freshman.

With Kupp leading the receiving corps, Davis would become a six-win team in 2010 and 2011 — during Kupp’s junior and senior season respectively.

Kupp’s junior season saw a wideout running a reported 4.65 40-yard dash go on and average 26.2 yards per catch and score seven touchdowns.

And in Kupp’s final prep season, he completed these numbers according to MaxPreps: 60 catches, 1,069 yards, an average of 17.82 yards per catch and 18 touchdowns — including two four-touchdown evenings.

His film made its way to the office of Baldwin and EWU. What does Baldwin recall watching in evaluating Kupp?

“His balance, his ability to get in and out of breaks, his understanding, even at a young age, on how to set up a DB, obviously his football knowledge but also just his short area quickness and hand-eye coordination,” Baldwin explained.

Yet, per 247Sports, Kupp received just two scholarship offers…none from a Pac-12 program or even any Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) school. His only other offer outside of what Baldwin helped extend to him? Idaho State.

But as one said back in 2014: EWU got a steal.

Was Baldwin Surprised by Kupp Going Under-Recruited?

Often during this time of year during the buildup for the Super Bowl, it becomes easy for people to look back at someone’s journey and ask the question: Why and how did someone slip under the radar before becoming a breakout star?

Kupp is this year’s top under-recruited, underdog story.

Baldwin, though, is aware of that narrative and for him, he’s not surprised that Kupp’s journey is being brought up.

“It’s easy for any of us to be surprised. You know, it’s easy to ask how did Aaron Rodgers ended up at Butte College, or how did Tom Brady get drafted where he is and how did Josh Allen have only Wyoming,” Baldwin said. “You know, it’s always easy for us to come back to that moment and that time. Sometimes you’ve got to evaluate as clean as you think just because of how it turned out.”

But again, Baldwin isn’t surprised by how dominant Kupp has become, because to him Kupp never changed.

“He just had so many tools that allowed him to be an all-around receiver: Someone who can run the entire route tree but can also take screens…just like what he’s doing now,” Baldwin said.

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