Cooper Rush prepares for NFL Draft; ready to join former teammates in the pros


Senior quarterback Cooper Rush speaks to the media following the annual CMU Pro Day, Mar. 20 in the Indoor Athletic Center. 

Cooper Rush’s time at Central Michigan is over.

After finishing off an illustrious career, in which he started almost every game and came within 15 yards of passing Dan LeFevour for most passing yards in Mid-American Conference history, the 6-foot-3 quarterback from Charlotte is officially done torching Mid-American Conference defenses and has shifted his focus to the next part of the journey — the NFL.

Rush met with local media in Mount Pleasant on Wednesday to discuss his plans for the NFL Draft — which starts Thursday and ends Saturday — and talk about the process getting to this point.

The former Lansing Catholic High School star has been told by sources in the NFL he could be picked anywhere from the fourth to the seventh round or at the very least be signed as an undrafted free agent. 

Rush said he will be in Ann Arbor with friends and family on Saturday attending his brother’s graduation from Michigan. Rush said he is excited to potentially get drafted and finally join an NFL team.

“You get tired of waiting,” Rush said. “It’s been a long process, but now it is finally here and you get to play football. It’ll be kind of a combo event. It will be a fun event for the family and all of our friends too.”

After playing his final game as a Chippewa in December, Rush immediately began preparing for the East/West Shrine Game in late January. Rush competed against the top seniors from around the country and received guidance from NFL coaches.

From there, Rush started getting his body ready for the NFL Combine in March. The combine is a way to test incoming NFL players against each other in different athletic events.

At the combine, Rush meet with NFL teams and competed in 40-yard dash (4.93 seconds), the vertical jump (27 inches), the broad jump (105 inches), the 3-cone drill (7.23 seconds) and the 20-yard shuttle (4.47 seconds).

Rush also threw passes at the combine and said he felt he matched up well with the other quarterbacks overall.

“I felt really confident going into it and coming out of it,” Rush said. “I got the attitude like I’m right there with the rest of those guys. Now you just have to make the most of that opportunity.”

Since the combine, Rush has returned to CMU and has been working on shaping up some aspects of his throws while working on his fitness. He said he has dropped close to ten pounds and is down to around 220.

“I’ve just been up here trying to get into football shape,” he said. “You spend the whole previous two to three months getting in combine shape and trying to test well. Now you have to get back in football shape. I definitely think my skill set translates to the next level.”

LeFevour, who was drafted by the Chicago Bears in 2010, has been on campus several times in the last month and has worked with Rush to get him ready for the next level. Rush has always looked up to LeFevour, who now plays in the Canadian Football League, and said he values his advice.

“He’s been playing pro ball for seven to eight years now and he knows what he’s doing and does it the right way,” Rush said. “You try to emulate that.”

Greg Cornwell | Central Michigan Life

Senior quarterback Cooper Rush calls a play in the game on Dec. 28, 2015 during the Quick Lane Bowl at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan.

Central Michigan head coach John Bonamego has worked with Rush for the last two years. Before coming to CMU, Bonamego coached on five different NFL teams and said Rush has the tools and mentality to make it in the pros.

“He’s done everything he can possibly do. He did very well at the all-star game and combine,” Bonamego said. “There’s zero question about his character, commitment and intelligence. Now it’s just a matter of seeing where he ends up. Once you get there, that’s where everything starts. Getting there is only half the battle.”

Very few quarterbacks in the NFL start their rookie season, but Rush said he is determined to make a difference his first year in the league. Rush said he learned a lot about the NFL from Bonamego and believes he can compete right away.

“It’s all about competing for that top spot no matter what,” he said. “Obviously if you go to a team with an established starter, you compete for that top backup spot. No matter if you get drafted or you’re a free agent, once you’re in the door it’s all about football evaluation.”

Rush looks to follow former teammates Thomas Rawls (Seattle Seahawks), Leterrius Walton (Pittsburgh Steelers) and Kavon Frazier (Dallas Cowboys) as Chippewas who have joined the NFL in recent years. 

Rush said seeing the success of his friends in the NFL is encouraging and he looks forward to seeing them on Sundays.

“There’s a lot of great guys who played here,” he said. “Central produces a lot of good NFL talent, so you just hope to be a part of it. I just can’t wait to get after. I can’t wait to get a playbook and get to camp. I’m energized and ready to go.”