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Sports >  EWU football

Former Eastern Washington star receiver Cooper Kupp shares his preparation for NFL

Eastern Washington wide receiver Cooper Kupp says all he can do now is be “the best football player I can be.” (David J. Phillip / AP)
Eastern Washington wide receiver Cooper Kupp says all he can do now is be “the best football player I can be.” (David J. Phillip / AP)
By Cooper Kupp Special to The Spokesman-Review

My last steps on Roos Field weren’t how I envisioned them, but the last five years that I was leaving behind were some of the best of my life.

With these steps, it was time to look forward to the next chapter of my life, which was fast approaching.

My wife Anna and I worked quickly to confirm our decision on a sports agency and a place to train over the coming months. We were also trying to find time to spend with family, as this was all happening during the Christmas season.

We chose an agency that aligned with the values that we hold so dearly: Rep 1 Sports and Ryan Tollner, based in Irvine, California.

After a brief visit to California, meeting with our great trainers, Ryan Flaherty and Gavin Macmillan, we had found our next temporary home. A few quick days back in Washington meant moving out of our apartment, a couple of days with family in the Tri-Cities, and then on Dec. 26 we were off to begin training.

The start of training can be daunting. It starts with four weeks of preparing for the Senior Bowl, another four weeks of combine-specific training and then three weeks back to football work preparing for pro day. During our first week in California, Anna and I were the only ones in the facility along with our trainer.

Those first seven days were brutal, and Anna killed every workout. As January began, the other guys started showing up and our regiment really began.

Workouts began at 8 a.m., with physical therapy in the afternoon, a second workout post physical therapy, and film sessions/interview prep in the evenings. Our meals were also regimented with two scheduled cheat meals during the week, which we took full advantage of … lots of tacos and milkshakes.

After four weeks of our workout routine, it was time for the Senior Bowl and a rare opportunity to strap up against great competition in late January. It was an incredible experience, being able to learn from NFL coaches and compete against top talent. I had a great time playing the game I was created to pursue.

Coming into this week, there was a lot of doubt as to how I would do competing against some of the best in the nation. I knew this was how most people felt, but it wasn’t something that became a burden for me. I trust in who I am, I know the passion I was given for this game and I believe I had earned the privilege to compete.

So I stepped on the field free of any weight and just enjoyed the game I love. But after a week of practices, meetings and good competition, it was time to get back to California and prepare for the combine.

After the Senior Bowl, as important as it was to get to combine training, I had to take advantage of every chance I could to make myself a better football player. I was extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to work out with a few talented quarterbacks such as Ben Roethlisberger, Carson Wentz and Jared Goff.

It was incredible to see the mentality these guys take into every workout. When it comes to football, everything we do is with the intention to be the best at our craft. Our intention is to be a champion.

I’m thankful for the opportunity to have spent some time with these guys. Between these football workouts, I was still all-in on preparing for the combine. After a quick four weeks, it was time to hop on a plane to Indianapolis and the NFL Combine.

The NFL Scouting Combine is hands down the wildest four days of my life up to this point. All athletes stay in a hotel that serves as the location for all of your interviews and psychological testing. It also serves as an active train station. You never acclimate to your room shaking at 1 a.m.

The first day is for pre-examination and psychological testing. Lab work, EKG tests, X-rays and a full medical history are just a part of the five to seven hours spent in the hospital on Day 1.

This rolls right into psychological testing, which can be another two to three hours. Every night ends with 3 1/2 hours in the train station and informal meetings with multiple NFL teams and position coaches.

Day 2 at the combine starts at 3:30 a.m for drug testing. It is also a medical day: another five to seven hours of examinations by team doctors, with train station meetings again that night.

Day 3 is the bench press and a long day of media press conferences.

Finally, you reach Day 4 – test day. We were on the field by 7:30 a.m. and didn’t come off the field until 2 p.m. I didn’t hit the marks I had set for myself on that day. It was frustrating as a competitor to fall short of what I had set as goals for myself. But it was done and I had to move forward. It was back to California and back to work.

March was spent on a similar routine but with more consistent football work spread throughout. I couldn’t wait to get back to focusing on what I have felt is the most important part about this process – being the best football player I can be.

After a quick three weeks, it was time for Pro Day up at EWU. I was able to improve on my 40-yard dash time and L drill, as well as run routes again on the red turf with a few of the guys that I had worked alongside for the last five years.

I am blessed to have made so many amazing friends in Cheney, to have a family that supports me through every step and a wife that is my best friend. I look forward now to what God has planned for us, what city we get to call home, and where I get to play this great game I love.

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