08-19-2006, 02:21 PM
Join Date: Aug 2005
KAYLORE'S SON: Good Interview with Chris Kuper before the Draft
With props to Khan for the link ...
Q&A with North Dakota OG Chris Kuperhttp://www.profootballweekly.com/PFW...erqa032206.htm
By Bobby LaGesse
March 22, 2006
North Dakota OG Chris Kuper has traveled an out-of-the-way road to the cusp of the NFL.
Kuper grew up in Anchorage, Alaska, and received little recruiting interest in high school before signing with NCAA Division II powerhouse North Dakota. The 6-foot-3, 303-pound Kuper started at right guard the past three years for the Fighting Sioux and was named to four D-II All-America teams in each of the past two years.
Kuperís size, technique and success caught the eye of NFL scouts and has made Kuper a potential selection in the 2006 NFL draft. The 23-year-old recently talked with PFW about Alaska, the Wonderlic test, and the differences between D-I and D-II programs.
PFW: Are people surprised when they find out you grew up playing football in Alaska?
Kuper: People find it hard to believe they have football in Alaska. We start a little earlier because winter starts a little earlier and we get more precipitation, but, yeah, I think, barring California, Florida and Texas, they play some good football in Alaska ó at least they did when I played there.
PFW: How tough is it to be recruited in Alaska when you are so far away from the mainland?
Kuper: That is why I ended up where I did. You know we get a bad rap because they think there is a lack of competition and basically a lot of teams donít scout up there too much. I got a couple of scholarship offers out of high school to two Division II schools ó Western Washington and North Dakota.
PFW: What place is colder, Alaska or North Dakota?
Kuper: Anchorage isnít as bad as North Dakota. North Dakota has no mountains, no elevation, and the wind out here is fierce. I thought I was going to a warmer climate. I came on my (recruiting) visit in January and it was about 15 below (zero).
PFW: Did you play with a chip on your shoulder because you felt you were overlooked by Division I schools?
Kuper: I just wanted to succeed, and my ultimate goal was to play in the NFL. I knew I was going to have to play at a very good level at the Division II level to get a look. Once (recruiting) was over, I had my team and I was happy with it. A program like this did give me a little bit more exposure because we had extended seasons every year in the playoffs.
PFW: When was the first time you realized the NFL may be in your future?
Kuper: My offensive line coach (Chris Mussman) told me my second year here (redshirt freshman year) that I had a chance to be the best offensive lineman here. If I kept working, I would get my name out there and I could be in the NFL for sure. I was always working toward that, but I didnít know if I would ever realize that goal. The coaches did everything in their power to help me through it, and I put a lot of hard work in to get here.
PFW: Division I schoolsí weight rooms are massive. What kind of weight room did a D-II school have for you to put on the necessary weight to battle in the trenches?
Kuper: Itís not very big. Itís kind of tucked away in a nook of the basement of our old football stadium. All the offices are in Memorial Stadium, where we used to play games. I would say maybe 800 square feet. Weíve got four benches, four platforms, four squat racks, and then you have to turn the corner and there is a rack of free weights. It would be about a size down from a local gym. It is pretty specific to what we do, so it works for everybody.
PFW: Was there any time since your season ended where you could see differences in the life of D-II player compared to a D-I player?
Kuper: Being in the atmosphere (of the NFL Scouting Combine). I was getting on a plane and I saw Marty Schottenheimer getting on the plane that I was flying out there on. You walk around and you see other head coaches, and it is something that I havenít experienced.
PFW: After Vince Young took the Wonderlic test, everyone had an opinion on it. What do you think of the test?
Kuper: The first time I took it, I got a 21, and it was the first time I had seen it. It was on my junior day, and I went in and took it fast. Itís really about the way you take the test. If you spend a lot of time on the math questions, you are not going to be able to answer enough questions to give yourself a good score. I didnít find it too hard. I think youíve really got to pick and choose your questions and you will be fine.
PFW: You are a Steelers fan. Do you want to be drafted by the Super Bowl champs?
Kuper: Iíll be happy just to be drafted. I didnít expect to be drafted in my junior year. I expected to sign a free-agent deal, but once it got closer and the buzz started, I found I could get drafted. I didnít think I was going to the Combine, and then I ended up going to the Combine. Playing in Pittsburgh, that is my dadís team. He put it on me at a young age to be a Pittsburgh fan. You have no choice in the matter, so Iím happy to play for anybody.
PFW: How tough is it to go through days of darkness in the Alaskan winters?
Kuper: The winters are about 20-22 hours of darkness. It never really bothered me until I moved to the Lower 48 and saw what it is like. Then when I go back, it is a little bit depressing that it never gets light out in the winter. Itís something I grew up with, so it was never a problem as a kid.