All eyes on starting quarterback Rush as Kater guns for top position
Sophomore Cooper Rush has been named the Central Michigan University football team’s starting quarterback heading into Thursday night’s matchup with Tennessee-Chattanooga.
But Rush is not the Chippewas’ only viable option at signal caller. And no one knows that better than Rush.
“(The job) feels a little bit different this year, but the preparation stays the same,” Rush said. “It’s all about being consistent. I’ve still got a lot of work to do. I’m just blessed with this opportunity right now.”
Senior Cody Kater was a standout at Grand Rapids Community College before coming to CMU, where he earned the starting job in training camp. He was sidelined with a broken collarbone last season.
Nearly eight months later, Kater put up notable numbers in this year’s spring scrimmage, going 16-of-23 for 257 yards and three touchdowns. Perhaps most importantly, Kater appears to be and says he is healthy.
“I feel pretty good overall,” Kater said during training camp. “Coop(er) definitely has more confidence heading into this season, which is good. There is not a controversy. Me and Cooper are friends.”
Kater, now a senior, was giving support to the notion that there is a big difference between controversy and competition. Head coach Dan Enos said the latter is what exists on his team at all positions.
“Controversy means you have people that are divided,” Enos said. “That’s not the case here. As with any job on this team, you’ve got to come out here on a day-to-day basis and perform. (Kater) knows that.”
With a former quarterback at Michigan State coaching the team, both current CMU passers say that history shows when Enos works with them.
“I can recall competing (for a starting quarterback job) for the first time when I was in the fifth grade,” Enos said. “My freshman year (at MSU), I was seventh out of seven. I worked my way up. When I did eventually get the job, I never really felt safe with it.”
Keeping the job is harder than earning it – a point Enos said Rush should always be aware of.
“When Cody (Kater) won the job last year, I told him now comes the hard part. You have to keep it,” Enos said. “You can’t relax. That sense of urgency that got you to that spot has to be the same thing that drives you to keep getting better.”
Those who know Rush best call him a master of the approach, a student of the game and a true leader in the making.
“You watch the same amount of film, you do the same amount of reps. It’s all the same stuff,” Rush said. “We don’t have a right to play (football) here. We aren’t just given this. We have to earn it. We are truly blessed for that.”
However, the undeniable pressure that will be placed squarely on Rush’s shoulder pads will be the last thing on the starter’s mind.
“The most motivating thing is the fact the other team is out there trying to beat you,” Rush said. “(The competition with Kater) benefits everybody on the team. The intensity we have with each other carries over to everyone else. They know they’ve got both guys working their butts off. I think they like that.”
Enos, meanwhile, is happy to have options at his most crucial offensive position.
“Our team is pretty confident that if something did happen to one guy, the other guy can come in and give us a chance to win,” Enos said. “Our team believes in both players.”
A long offseason, and now holding the opposite role he had last fall, has given Kater time to reflect on the impermanence of the most coveted varsity sports position on campus.
“We are competing with each other but we are mostly competing to move the ball down the field,” Kater said. “There is no glaring difference between us. (Rush) has a whole season under his belt now. The coaches are confident with both of us.”
“In college football, a lot can change in a year.”