With the publicity swirling around some bigger names in the NFL Draft, there are always prospects who put their names into NFL teams' memory banks with their college film and off-season work in front of teams. Former Central Michigan quarterback Cooper Rush is one of those prospects who has the film and knowledge that NFL teams want in their organization.
Rush started 46 straight games for the Chippewas and finished in the school’s top ten list in touchdown passes (90), passing yards (12,891), passes completed (1,022), and passing attempts (1,648). His final season saw Rush garner All-MAC honors and throwing for 3,540 yards and 23 touchdowns, and the team captain was named a MAC Distinguished Scholar Athlete for the past three years. Named the CMU offensive player of the year in his first season as a starter, Rush was a staple for the offense over his four years as a starter.
Considered a quarterback with plus anticipation on the field when running the offense, Rush knew coming out of Central Michigan that he needed to fine tune his game in terms of technique and knowledge. There have been questions about his arm strength coming out of college and part of his plan was to work on this before working out in front of NFL teams. Rush headed down to Florida to spend time with quarterback coach David Morris and the most notable focus was to improve his arm strength.
Rush discussed the gains he added to his game after working for a close to a month with Morris. With a concentration on his lower body and developing a better base when throwing the football, Rush noticed a difference in his arm strength as the work continued.
“Really working a lot physical tools, my feet, improving my arm strength,” Rush said of his time with Morris, getting ready of the NFL Combine and his pro day.
“I feel made some major strides in those areas. We also studied the NFL game, studied other good quarterbacks and seeing what they are doing. I think I learned a lot in two or three months; I can’t wait to keep learning like that and see where it goes,” Rush explained.
Checking in at 6’3” and 228 lbs. at the NFL Combine, Rush felt at home talking football with coaches and team personnel. There was some added stress due to the whirlwind experience the NFL Combine poses to prospects during the four days they are there. However, Rush was comfortable with the environment and felt at home when he finally was put out it on the field, throwing in front of NFL personnel.
Rush was tested at the Combine and most of that pressure came from the board work he did with NFL teams, explaining coverages, protections, checks, and film. He credited Morris and the Central Michigan offense for helping cut down the learning curve.
“It was very pro-style. We used multiple personnels and a lot of different formations kinda like what you see in the NFL,” Rush said of Central Michigan’s offense. “The amount that was put on the quarterback's shoulders was a lot in the run game, not only in the pass game and protections, what you see in the NFL, too. It has definitely helped me out.”
The work he put in for five years with the Chippewas was the biggest plus for Rush, learning and playing in a pro-style offense. Rush laughed when he said they huddled for all four seasons in which he was the quarterback, unlike a good portion of college programs.
“It think it is a huge advantage, there is learning curve it is all going to be more advanced but I can sit up there and talk about how we protected versus blitz because of the amount of things we went over with our protections at Central [Michigan]," Rush explained.
He continued, “Very similar language, similar schemes to what a pro team would do. So you can relay that information faster and pick it up quicker because it is not completely foreign to you. I think it is defintily an advantage, not just the protections, checks at the lines, let you do post huddle, post snaps, reading the whole field, full field reads, going through your progressions like that. I think it is big time advantage. ‘’
Coming out of the Combine, Rush knew that he had to improve how he threw the deep ball and began feeling more comfortable with the work he put in at his pro day in late March. Wanting to show better quickness in his drops at his pro day, he felt throwing to his familiar receivers had become easier after all the work he put in. Rush has had the benefit of being in front of NFL teams all off-season, at the East West Shrine Game, the NFL Combine, and his pro day, giving NFL teams the chance to see him improve from each step.
Now, the wait starts, Rush will travel to Michigan to see his youngest brother graduate when the NFL Draft starts on April 27th. He knows it will be a special day seeing his brother graduate and spending that time with his entire family. Rush will be waiting on his own good news in the back of his mind.
"Whether you are drafted or undrafted, once you are out there on the field with a team, it's about trying to make the 53-man roster," Rush said. "Once you are in the door you just have to take the opportunity."
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