YAKIMA, Wash. -- From their own experiences, Craig and Jake Kupp know what Cooper Kupp is getting ready to face.
Both enjoyed NFL careers and remembered well their first training camps — Craig with the New York Giants and Jake with the Dallas Cowboys.
Even with that background, both said they really didn’t share much of that with Cooper, who opened his first training camp on Saturday with the Los Angeles Rams.
That’s because they didn’t need to.
“To be honest, we haven’t had any preparation talks going into this thing,” Craig said Friday of his son. “It’s a culmination of years of preparation on his part. His journey and us supporting him through junior high, high school and college.”
“All I can say is that I’m really excited for him,” Jake said of his grandson. “We’re just there to enjoy the ride with him.”
Having witnessed much of that preparation up close, Craig and Jake are also confident that Cooper will find NFL success.
“Preparing for the NFL or college, that starts in Grid Kids. You can’t say five months before training camp that you’re going to start getting ready for the NFL,” Jake said. “Along the way, Cooper has built a solid foundation that’s got him to where he’s at.
“(Now) he can’t wait to show the Rams and his teammates what he can do.”
“I think back on all the work he’s done; the preparation he’s put in,” Craig said. “It’s kind of a life-long approach.”
A good piece of that foundation has been Cooper’s ability to blend supreme confidence with a down-to-earth attitude, Craig said.
“It’s funny but I think he believed he was going to be in this place, even as a skinny freshman at Davis,” Craig said. “In his mind, I don’t think he’s overly surprised he was going to be in this place. That sounds kind of cocky, but it’s really just an inner confidence he has.
“He always felt like he was the best football player on the field. Even if he wasn’t, that was his mindset.”
It’s a mindset that helped him become a record-setting receiver at Eastern Washington University. It’s a mindset that attracted the attention of numerous NFL teams, not just the Rams, prior to the draft. And it’s a mindset that helped him make a big impression with the Rams during OTAs (organized team activities) in the spring, leading to speculation that he will be a starter when the season begins.
Yet Cooper has remained grounded, dad said.
“There’s some expectations and he’s had some success with the OTAs, but at the end of the day he knows he hasn’t done anything yet with the Rams,” Craig said. “He’s just trying to be the best player and person he can be and help the team win games.
“I think he’s got a really good mental approach to this whole situation.”
That sentiment was expressed by Cooper himself in a story published in the Los Angles Times on the eve of camp when he was asked about being high on the team’s depth chart at wide receiver.
“All that stuff’s speculation. I still haven’t done anything yet,” he told the newspaper. “My expectation is to come in here and help win games. That’s the most important part, the most important statistic.”
Now, Craig, Jake and the rest of the family are excited to watch Cooper’s NFL career unfold, with some of that first-hand.
Craig and wife Karin will head to the team’s training camp at the University of California Irvine in Orange County in August and watch the team’s first preseason game, against the Dallas Cowboys on Aug. 12. They will also be in the stands for the regular-season opener against the Indianapolis Colts on Sept. 10.
They will be joined by Jake and his wife Carla for a Sept. 21 game at San Francisco, then fly to Missoula, Mont., to watch Cooper’s younger brother Ketner and his Eastern Washington Eagles play Montana. There will be another double-dip Oct. 7-8 when Eastern plays at UC Davis on Saturday with the Rams hosting the Seattle Seahawks the next day.
“I can’t say what it’s like to have a son play in the NFL and then how many grandfathers get a chance ... to be able to experience that again?” Jake said. “It makes it fun for Carla and I to be a part of their lives.
“It can’t get any better than this.”
“We’re really looking forward to this fall with both the boys,” Craig said. “It’s just extremely exciting. I can’t even tell you how exciting it is.”