Once again, Cooper Kupp stands alone.
The most prolific receiver in Eastern Washington history capped a season for the ages Friday night, winning the most prestigious award in the Football Championship Subdivision.
With his family looking on in Frisco, Texas, Kupp was presented with the STATS FCS Offensive Player of the Year Award, emblematic of the best player in the nation.
The honor completes a trifecta for Kupp, who earlier won the Walter Payton Award and the Offensive Player of the Year award sponsored by the FCS Athletic Directors’ Association.
Kupp’s award capped a big night for the Big Sky Conference; Montana’s Tyrone Holmes is the Defensive Player of the Year and Portland State’s Bruce Barnum is the Coach of the Year.
“It’s such an honor to even be here, and to be in a conference that puts out so many great players,” Kupp said after his name was called.
The final balloting was close. Kupp had 34 first-place votes and 378 overall; runner-up Kade Harrington, a running back from Lamar, had 26 first-place votes and 349 total. Illinois State running back Marshaun Coprich finished third, with 23 first place votes and 275 overall.
Kupp is the third Eastern player to win the honor, which supersedes the Payton Award as the most prestigious in FCS. Quarterback Erik Meyer won in 2005 and Bo Levi Mitchell – who led Eastern to the FCS title in 2010 – earned it in 2011. Kupp is only the second wide receiver to win the Payton Award, with Brian Finneran from Villanova winning in 1997.
Kupp’s spectacular 2015 season included 114 receptions, breaking the previous league record of 112 and ranks eighth in FCS history.
“Anyone who knows the game of football knows that without all 11 guys, you don’t get anything done,” said Kupp, who credited his coaches, the offensive line, his quarterbacks and above all a receiving corps that “has challenged me to be the best I can be.”
Kupp, who became only the second wide receiver in 42 years to win the Big Sky Conference Offensive MVP Award, announced on Nov. 30 he will return for his senior season at EWU.
Kupp led FCS in five categories during the 2015 season: receptions, receptions per game (10.4), reception yards (1,642), reception yards per game (149.3) and touchdown receptions (19). The players closest to him in FCS were eight catches, 170 yards and four TDs behind him, and in the league the next-best player for catches was teammate Kendrick Bourne (73) and for yards it was NAU’s Emmanuel Butler (1,208).
Through his junior season, Kupp has established eight Big Sky Conference records, as well as 17 school marks and seven NCAA Football Championships records. His 122.4 average reception yards per game is currently a FCS career record, while his other six FCS records were set during his freshman season.
His average of 10.4 catches per game in 2015 was also a league record (sixth in FCS), to go along with six career marks he set in just three seasons – all ending with first team All-Big Sky accolades.
In just three years, Kupp ranks second in FCS history in touchdown catches (56, two behind the record), second in reception yards (4,764, 486 behind the record) and fourth in receptions (311, 84 behind the record). All three marks are Big Sky records, and he also established a new league record for average catches per game (7.97), which also ranks third in FCS history.
Harrington set a handful of Lamar and Southland Conference records as a junior. During the regular season, he led the nation in rushing yards (2,092), rushing yards per game (190.2), rushing touchdowns (21) and all-purpose yards (213.4). He averaged over 220 rushing yards in Southland games, earning the conference’s player of the year award.
Coprich was named the Missouri Valley Football Conference offensive player of the year for the second consecutive season after leading in most rushing categories. Including two FCS playoff games, he ranked No. 2 in the FCS in rushing yards (1,967) and rushing yards per game (151.3) as well as No. 3 in points per game (11.2).
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