Alex Kupper proved the doubters wrong at Louisville -- and intends to do it again in the NFL.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – The story said that the University of Louisville was the first team to win a BCS bowl game and not have a single player selected in the following NFL Draft.
What the story did not say is there are at least three players from that Cardinals' team that intend to play in the NFL next fall regardless of questions that scouts, coaches and general managers have about their abilities.
One of those guys is offensive lineman Alex Kupper. He flies to Houston Thursday to participate in the Texans' free-agent rookie camp. This is not the first time Kupper has been told that he did not belong.
This is Part II of the story Kupper heard before he walked on at U of L from Trinity High School five years ago. He started the final 26 games of his college career.
"I'm going into it with the mindset that I'm playing bonus football," Kupper said. "Technically, if it was up to the people who recruit and all that nonsense, I wasn't even worthy of playing college football at this level.
"It's a game that I love to do. If I can get paid to do it, that's what everybody strives to do. They want to get paid to do something they love."
Kupper's pal, center Mario Benavides, is taking a similar shot with the Kansas City Chiefs. Defensive back Adrian Bushell made his deal with Oakland.
If they did what Kupper did, they consulted an agent, studied league rosters and tried to pick a team that needed the skills they can provide. The Steelers, Chiefs and Eagles called Kupper during the final day of the draft. He had talked with Houston once, weeks before the draft.
In his research, Kupper discovered that Houston uses an offensive scheme similar to the scheme at Louisville. The Texans are also looking for linemen. They drafted two – both tackles. At 6 feet 3 and nearly 300 pounds, Kupper is a better fit at guard, although he'll play flanker if you ask him.
Kupper's skill is that he can block people effectively from multiple positions. His other skill is that he plays the game as if he understands the responsibilities of all 11 offensive players. Because he does.
"I can play wherever they need me to," Kupper said. "That's kind of been my motto."
The National Football Foundation recognized the savvy of Kupper and former U of L quarterback Will Stein this week. They were named to the Hampshire Honor Society. Both maintained grade-point averages of at least 3.2 while working on master's of business administration degrees.
Kupper is reporting to the Texans' rookie free-agent camp with Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein, a Heisman Trophy finalist. Notre Dame halfback Cierre Wood is another member of the group. So is Ray Graham, the Pittsburgh running back who was projected as the Big East player of the year before last season.
Those guys will have to grind their way into September just like Kupper. The odds are against all of them.
"I don't even know if I could put odds on it," Kupper said. "It's hard a process that you just have to work through. I'm kind of preparing myself for the same thing as when I came to U of L. If you're a freshman or you come in as a rookie, you're low on the depth chart.
"You have to work your way up. It just has to progress a little bit faster this time."
The odds were also firmly against Kupper making the field at Louisville. And they were against another former Card -- Joe Jacoby. He played his way into the Washington Redskins lineup as an undrafted free agent in 1981. When Jacoby finally retired, he had been fitted for three Super Bowl rings.
"Maybe one day you can write a story about me like that," Kupper said.