Drafting of Kupp is a family affair

(STATS) - Like so many players selected in the NFL Draft, Cooper Kupp will gather together with extended family while he waits to get a welcoming call from his new team.

The four-time FCS All-America wide receiver from Eastern Washington is projected to be taken in the second or third round Friday night - the middle day of the three-day draft in Philadelphia.

What's vastly different from most draft selections is the father and paternal grandfather with whom Kupp will gather in Newport Beach, California, also played in the NFL. With Cooper's selection, the Kupps will become the fifth family with three generations in the NFL following the Higgins-Suhey, Pyne, Matthews and Chickillo family trees.

Cooper's grandfather, Jake, was an offensive guard drafted by the Cowboys in the ninth round in 1964 and went on to play 12 seasons with four organizations, mostly with the Saints as he became a member of their Hall of Fame. His father, Craig, was a quarterback who was the Giants' fifth-round selection in 1990 and played only one season - '91 - with the Cowboys and Phoenix Cardinals.

"Three straight generations of NFL draft picks is pretty special," Craig Kupp said earlier this week. "The game of football has always been a big deal in our family mostly because we just enjoy it so much. We love the game and to be one of only a handful of families with three generations of NFL draftees is quite an honor.

"I think what is more important, though, as parents, Karin and I want the very best for our kids just like any parent does. We talk to our kids about how important it is to find things they are passionate about in life and pursue them with all they've got. It's very rewarding as a parent to see this play out in Coop's life over the years and see his childhood dream become a reality."

Cooper's football DNA probably could have been a dead giveaway to college suitors as a high school player in Yakima, Washington, but he never received a scholarship offer from an FBS program. He says he was only 5-foot-4, 120 pounds as a high school freshman - he even wore concealed ankle weights to bolster his early weigh-ins - and didn't blossom physically until the second half of his high school years.

At Eastern Washington, not only did Kupp grow to a chiseled 6-1½, 205, but he was unstoppable against both FCS and FBS opponents. He set Division I career records for receptions (428), receiving yards (6,464) and touchdown receptions (73), helping the Eagles win three Big Sky Conference titles.

Still to this day, the only player to win both the Jerry Rice Award (FCS freshman of the year) and Walter Payton Award (FCS offensive player of the year) maintains he's always trying "to earn my spot over again. I keep striving to be perfect, it keeps you pushing and pushing and pushing."

"He's earned it every second of every single day," Eastern Washington coach Aaron Best said. "He's worked as if he was the last man on the roster from the first day he got here. His work ethic is unmatched - he's a great person from a great family and it's just a great story. He doesn't want to be in the limelight and have the lights on him, but we want it for him - so we'll meet him halfway. We're rooting for him."

Like his storyline suggests, family is huge to the 23-year-old Kupp.

Often vocal about his faith, Kupp and his wife, Anna, were married prior to his redshirt junior year in 2015. While others often asked him if it was hard to be married while still in college, Kupp would say he would not have been able to do it without her.

Anna will be an important part of the Kupp family celebration during the NFL Draft this week.

"I guess the thing that stands out to me is that Coop has worked extremely hard to get where he is today," Craig Kupp said. "God blessed him with an incredible passion to play football and the physical skills necessary to play at an extremely high level. But what makes Coop so special is that he believes he was created to play football. There is purpose to his life and that belief in what he is doing is a very powerful force. When talent, hard work, passion and belief all collide and come together, then great things happen."

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