Eastern Washington wide receiver Cooper Kupp has won the Jerry Rice Award given to the top freshman in the Football Championshp Subdivision, The Sports Network announced this morning.
The award will be presented later today at The Sports Network's FCS Awards Banquet and Presentation in Philadelphia. The winners of the Walter Payton Award (FCS outstanding player), Buck Buchanan Award (FCS outstanding defensive player) and Eddie Robinson Award (FCS coach of the year) also will be awarded.
“It’s a great honor to receive an award named after the best receiver of all time,” said Kupp. “I want to thank my teammates and coaches for pushing me to be better every day. And I want to thank The Sports Network and FCS for making his possible.”
Kupp, a 2012 graduate of Davis High School in Yakima, Wash., has already earned first team All-America honors for a season that has included 85 catches for 1,567 yards and 21 touchdowns. All three are FCS records for a freshman, and his streak of 14 games with a touchdown catch is an overall FCS record.
Eastern sophomore quarterback Vernon Adams is one of three finalists for the 27th Annual Payton Award, won previously by Erik Meyer (2005) and Bo Levi Mitchell (2011). That award, bestowed on the outstanding player in the FCS and considered the Heisman Trophy of the former Division I-AA level, will be announced later at about 7 p.m. Pacific time on Monday.
Voting for the awards, conducted by a national panel of sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries, is based on the regular season. The Jerry Rice Award is named for legendary NFL wide receiver Jerry Rice, who played in the FCS (then Division I-AA) at Mississippi Valley State.
“It has been a special season,” said Eastern coach Beau Baldwin said of Kupp. “He spends time in the film room like a quarterback. You have to kick him out of the weight room and make sure he stays balanced as a human because of the passion he has for football."
Both of his Cooper’s parents, Craig Kupp and Karin Kupp (formerly Gilmer) are members of the Pacific Lutheran University Hall of Fame after competing for the Lutes in football and soccer, respectively. Karin’s father, Tom Gilmer, is also in the PLU Hall of Fame, as well as the Tacoma-Pierce County Sports Hall of Fame.
Cooper’s parents are in Philadelphia to accept on his behalf while the team prepares for its semifinal matchup in the FCS Playoffs .against Towson. Eastern athletic director Bill Chaves and Big Sky Conference commissioner Doug Fullerton will also be in Philadelphia for the festivities.