AP Photo
November 11, 2016

(STATS) - It's ironic that Eastern Washington wide receiver Cooper Kupp recognizes numbers can lie. The fifth-year senior says so because he believes the most complete performance of his career was against Idaho State last season, although it doesn't reflect statistically.

In that win, he liked his blocking, how he gained yards after catches, perhaps that he threw for a touchdown.

What doesn't lie are the numbers attached to Kupp's many records. He already holds not just the FCS record but the Division I career record for receiving yards (5,924) and touchdown receptions (68), and he's on the verge of the trifecta with the most career receptions.

Heading into the third-ranked Eagles' Senior Day Saturday against Idaho State, Kupp's 389 receptions are just six behind the Division I and FCS record 395 that Elon's Terrell Hudgins had from 2006-09.

"I think it's a great honor," the 6-foot-2, 215-pounder from Yakima, Washington, said. He owns 12 FCS, eight Big Sky Conference and 21 school records.

"Obviously, there's been some great players that have come through the FCS, and great receivers. But really I think it's a testament to the team that I've played on, the coaches that I've been able to learn under. You aren't able to do those kinds of things without great teammates and guys around you. I've been pleased to play with some quarterbacks that have been able to do some exceptional things here."

It's hardly mattered whether Vernon Adams, Jordan West, Reilly Hennessey or, this season, Gage Gabrud has thrown passes to Kupp, he will go down as the most accomplished wide receiver in FCS history. He is a three-time first-team All-American, the 2013 Jerry Rice Award winner as FCS freshman of the year, and the 2015 Walter Payton Award winner as the FCS offensive player of the year.

This season, he has caught 78 passes for 1,160 yards and 12 touchdowns. The yards and TDs lead the FCS, and he missed 1 1/2 games because of a shoulder injury.

"Technically speaking, I think the best thing a receiver can do is believe that he's never a finished product," said the 23-year-old Kupp, one of 12 Eagles' seniors.

"My strengths are crisp route running and being able to separate from the defender, and that's vertically or laterally, and give the quarterback a chance to get me the ball and be able to make plays."

Kupp considered entering the NFL Draft after his junior campaign last year, but the Eagles' rare subpar season left him wanting a better end. Plus, he and his wife Anna weren't ready to leave the friends, teammates and coaches behind - "people and families that we're very blessed to have in our lives now, and wouldn't be there if we hadn't chosen to come back," he said.

Eastern Washington (8-1, 6-0) isn't just in contention for a Big Sky championship - which would be a third for Kupp, and fourth counting his 2012 season on the scout team - but perhaps the school's second FCS national championship (the Eagles won in 2010).

"We do have lofty goals for ourselves as a team, and that goal is to win a national championship," he said. "We have some stepping-stones to get there obviously, and it's still a long ways away. We just have to take it one step at a time and focus on the steps ahead of us here, but always in the back of our head we always have that goal that at the end of the day, we're working toward something great."

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