Kupper has gone from walk-on to best lineman

One of the strong suits for the University of Louisville football team this season has been the offensive line. U of L coach Charlie Strong said the line has been "really good," and lauded one lineman – senior Alex Kupper. Cardinal Authority has a piece on Kupper, who started his career as a walk-on.

Alex Kupper said he was "doomed" to be an offensive lineman at age 13 when he weighed in for a local Catholic School Athletic Association game at 131 pounds.

Kupper was to heavy to run the ball, according to league rules, so he was placed on the offensive line by his coaches.

The current University of Louisville senior left tackle hasn't left the line since, starring at Trinity High School before walking-on only to later earn a scholarship and become one of the best linemen in the Big East for the Cardinals.

"I knew I was only going to grow (back at 13) because my parents are 6-6 and 6-foot respectively," Kupper said. "I had dreams. I wanted to be the quarterback or running back in the Super Bowl.

"But just to be able to play football at this level and for this team where we are is just very special to me. It's all worked out."

It sure has for Kupper, who is one of two seniors on the line for the Cardinals along with center Mario Benavides. The two have started 16 straight games at those positions heading into Saturday's game at South Florida.

U of L coach Charlie Strong lauded the line at his weekly news conference as playing "really good" and then pointed out the play of Kupper.

"Kupp is our best offensive lineman," Strong said. "He can play tackle, guard or center. He can play anywhere that we need him. He's not a big, physical, athletic looking guy that you see a lot (at tackle) but he's so smart.

"He understands his limitation and just goes out and does what he has to do. He's smart, he plays hard and he just competes."

The 6-foot-3, 296-pound Kupper was a standout at Trinity but didn't get a ton of college attention. He visited U of L, Kentucky and Western Kentucky but didn't get a scholarship offer and opted to walk-on with the Cardinals.

"People told me I would play at this level if I put in the work," Kupper said. "Deep down in my mind, I knew that I would be able to do it. I just had to work hard at it. I was determined in high school (to make it to this level)."

Kupper doesn't have the size of most left tackles in college football, but he said that hasn't mattered. His coaches and teammates say he's so technical and smart. Kupper leads video sessions among the linemen.

"You have to be able to move too," Kupper said. "It's not all about size. I feel like I have improved my strength the past couple of years. But the big thing is agility. (Playing tackle) has been a challenge for me, there are some big pass rushers.

"But I just had to step up and do what the team needed me to do."

Strong said Kupper is so good that he's confident "if something happened to Mario that he could play center and get us in the right calls." Kupper played center for the first three games last season when Benavides was out.

Kupper said he's happy and excited to be at left tackle for 16 straight games, especially since the Cardinals are winning and the offense is moving the ball. The Cardinals are averaging 167 yards a game rushing.

"Not one offensive lineman can do it," Kupper said. "It takes a group effort. It just so happens that I know the assignments of all the positions on the line. Whatever position I am playing to help the team wins is my favorite."

Kupper is all about team and all about winning.

But with his solid play, there's a chance he has a future in professional football. NFLDraftScout.com said, "Kupper could get a shot as a developmental interior lineman due to his versatility, selflessness and grit."


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