Few people believed Cooper Kupp would one day be an NFL player – much less a standout – when he was a starter for Davis High School in Yakima, Wash.
In fact, few believed he even could play in college.
After receiving no scholarship offers from major college programs, Kupp signed with Eastern Washington University, where he became a record-setting All-American at wide receiver and a surprising NFL prospect.
Now he's a Super Bowl MVP.
Kupp caught eight passes for 92 years and two touchdowns Sunday night, helping propel the Rams to a 23-20 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl LVI. Kupp's touchdown reception with 1:25 left proved to be the game-winner.
"I don't have any regrets or feel any grudge towards anyone," Kupp, who is 28 and just completed his fifth NFL season, told reporters after the game. "I'm just thankful for the path that I've been on."
Accepting the MVP trophy in front of a national NBC audience, Kupp remained humble.
"I don't feel deserving of this. God is just so good," Kupp said, wiping away tears. "I'm so thankful for the guys I get to be around, for the coaches, from my family."
“I don’t feel deserving of this. God is just so good.”— Jason Romano (@JasonRomano) February 14, 2022
Cooper Kupp — what a year pic.twitter.com/K0PAhqgQN3
The Rams reached the pinnacle of pro football three years after they lost to Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII, 13-3. Kupp did not play in that game, having sustained an injury the previous November.
An outspoken Christian, Kupp said God gave him a "vision" after that game about future on-the-field success.
"In 2019, we walked off the field that last time after losing to the Patriots, I wasn't able to be a part of that. … God revealed to me that we were going to come back, we were going to be a part of a Super Bowl, we were going to win it," Kupp said. "And somehow, I was gonna walk off the field as the MVP of the game. And I shared that with my wife because I couldn't tell anyone else obviously what that was."
Because of that vision, he said, "there was just a belief [this season], every game, it was just – it was written already."
"I got to a place where I was validated not from anything that happened on the field but because of my worth in God and in my Father," he said. "And I'm just so incredibly thankful."
Asked by a reporter how the vision was revealed to him, Kupp said, "I was just walking off the field. It was as clear as day. I walked off the field, I turned around before walking back through the tunnel, and it just hit me. It was as clear as I can see you guys here right now."
Kupp said he feels undeserving of his awards and accolades.
"They're team awards," he said. "You don't ever see a successful receiver without all the other 10 guys on the field doing their jobs."
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Kevin C. Cox/Staff
Video courtesy: ©NBC Sports
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.