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  1. #1
    singersp's Avatar
    singersp is offline PPO Newshound
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    On the NFL: From Alaska to NFL via North Dakota?

    [size=18px]On the NFL: From Alaska to NFL via North Dakota? [/size]

    This Cinderella Man will be wearing Sioux colors when he joins Reggie Bush, Matt Leinart and other college superstars at the NFL scouting combine this week.

    Mark Craig
    Star Tribune
    Last update: February 19, 2006 – 12:49 AM


    The NFL scouting combine is an equal opportunity meat market. National champions mix with Heisman Trophy winners and players from Abilene Christian and Tarleton State.

    Vince Young will be there with five Texas teammates. Matt Leinart, Reggie Bush and 12 other Southern Cal players also are among the more than 330 prospects who got the nod.

    Then there's Chris Kuper, who heads to the party in Indianapolis this week as Cinderella in size 13½ cleats.

    Born in Anchorage, Alaska, his options beyond A.J. Dimond High were Western Washington and North Dakota. Two fine Division II schools, for sure, but still a long way from the fast tracks to the NFL. He chose North Dakota, and the rest is turning into history in a Kelly Green helmet.

    Looking back on the life of this 6-4, 303-pound guard, his father knew something was unusual as early as late 1984.

    "He was 2 years old," David Kuper said, "but he looked like he was 5."

    The Kupers got strange looks at the grocery store, where Chris no longer fit into the shopping cart seat.

    "He'd be down inside the cart drooling all over himself like 2-year-olds do," David said. "And people would be looking at him like there was something wrong with him because he was so big. I felt like going up to them and saying, 'Geez, he's only 2!'"

    David wants to tell you Chris' size and skills are the product of sound breeding. But in his prime, David, now 45, was 5-11, 195. He played one season at linebacker for Pueblo State, which is now Southern Colorado. Then Tina, his high school sweetheart, became pregnant. They were married in the fall of 1982. Chris arrived in December.

    Today, Chris is one of only seven Division II players invited to the combine. He is one of 16 guards. Last year, 62 offensive linemen were invited and 46 were drafted.

    Kuper also is believed to be the only native Alaskan to be invited. Only nine of them have played in the NFL since 1970. Two native Alaskans -- Oakland safety Reggie Tongue and San Francisco defensive end Travis Hall -- were in the NFL last season. That was the same number as Australians.

    Kuper expects to be drafted anywhere from the third to the sixth round. He would be the first North Dakota player drafted since the Vikings took Jim Kleinsasser in the second round in 1999, and the 24th overall.

    There are many examples of Division II players who made names for themselves in the NFL. Big names. Hall of Famer Gene Upshaw (Texas A&I) and future Hall of Famer Jerry Rice (Mississippi Valley State) were first-round picks. Broncos receiver Rod Smith (Missouri Southern) went undrafted, but is now Denver's career reception leader.

    "Football is football," Kuper said. But he also admitted he was nervous last month before traveling to San Antonio, Texas, for the East-West Shrine Game practices. He was one of only two Division II players.

    Kuper started slowly that week. But he finished strong.

    "I don't know how to say this, and I mean it as a compliment, but Chris kind of plays like a real jerk out there," said North Dakota offensive coordinator Chris Mussman. "He wants to hurt you. Dominate you. Not just block you."

    Johnny Jolly, Texas A&M's 6-4, 309-pound defensive tackle, encountered the mean streak in practice. Kuper had put Jolly on his back a couple of times, and Jolly wasn't happy about it. Kuper was walking to the sideline when he said Jolly shoved him from behind. Kuper went to the ground. He jumped to his feet. Then he went after Jolly.

    "He thinks since he's from Texas A&M, that makes him better than me," Kuper said. "The fact he went to Texas A&M didn't matter to me when I was putting him on his back."

    Teammates restrained Kuper before he got close to Jolly. "It was nothing," Kuper said. "Just a football fight."

    Kuper had a suitcase full of letters from college recruiters, but no offers until shortly after Dimond assistant Fred Slone, a North Dakota alum, handed Mussman a tape of the 2000 Alaska state title game. Kuper, a two-way all-state selection, was MVP of the game.

    "I couldn't believe that none of the Pac-10 schools weren't going after this guy," Mussman said. "Oregon said he could be a preferred walk-on. But I thought he was better than that."

    Former North Dakota lineman Greg Lotysz, who played two preseasons with the Jets before suffering a debilitating knee injury in 2000, has worked with Kuper for four years. He said Kuper will climb on every team's draft board once they see his combine workouts.

    "What he'll do [this] week will blow people out of the water," Lotysz said. "All this kid needs is an opportunity.

    Chris Kuper

    "If at first you don't succeed, parachuting is not for you"

  2. #2
    Ltrey33 is offline Jersey Retired
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    Re: On the NFL: From Alaska to NFL via North Dakota?

    That's a great story, especially the part about him drooling all over himself. :lol: I hope he does well at the combine. It's nice to see a cinderella story once in a while.

  3. #3
    NordicNed is offline Jersey Retired
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    Re: On the NFL: From Alaska to NFL via North Dakota?

    Oh man, that read just made my day...

    Ever since my son was born, every time he goes in for a check up, he is like off the scales they use to determine growth rates (percentials).

    David since 3 yrs old has always been recorded to be in the 97% to 100% growth rate percentile..

    I really don't understand that much about it, but our last visit the DR. shock his head and laughed at me, I said whats that for?

    He went on to tell me, your son is as tall and big as the average 7 to 8 year old, and he was just 5 yrs and 2 weeks old then..

    He then said, your going to need a big refigerator for this kid when he gets in his teens.....He also said, expect your son to be in the range of 6'2" to 6'4" tall and weight anywhere from 230 to 260 lbs...

    I'm only 5'8" and weight about 200 to 210 when in decent shape...

    I don't think it's my imagination but, David is already strong as a bull for his age and he towers over every boy in his class and even dwarfs some..

    He's also very good in school and enjoys it.

    And get aload of this, his mother is only 5' tall and weights about 92 pounds.....I used to laugh when she would carry him like a baby and his feet would drag the ground..


    I LOVE THE SMELL OF VICTORY IN THE MORNING AIR.

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