INDIANAPOLIS – When Central Michigan quarterback Cooper Rush’s hands were measured at the East-West Shrine Game, the result was a minor red flag. Only 8 ¾ inches.
That’s a minor deal for players at most positions. But for a quarterback who is handling the ball on every play, bigger can mean better.
“They say under nine-inch hands is a bad thing,” Rush, who stands 6-feet-2 ½ and 225 pounds, said Friday at the NFL scouting combine at the Indianapolis Convention Center. “Lucky for me, I played in a lot of cold weather, rainy games up in Michigan, so it never was an issue. So that definitely helped me.
“But it was nice to see the nine on there (at the combine measurements.)”
Rush saved his best measurement for Indy, when his hands were sized at 9 1/8 inches. In the six weeks since the Shrine Bowl, a postseason college football exhibition for outgoing seniors, Rush fixed the “flaw” by looking up YouTube videos of typists.
“I stretched them, stretched them a lot,” he said. “The last few days I stretched them hard. … I got lucky.”
Rush is in a good spot if that’s his biggest obstacle. The Lansing Catholic alumnus’ prolific college stats likely led to his combine invite, even though he’s largely not considered a top-10 quarterback prospect entering the draft.
In four years at Central Michigan, he threw for almost 13,000 yards and 90 touchdowns.
When asked, he offered the Syracuse game from 2015 (430 passing yards) and the Oklahoma State game from 2016 (368 passing yards, 4 TDs, 1 INT)) as some of his best moments in college. Rush said scouts are intrigued to see him during Saturday’s throwing session.
“Show that you can make all the throws, be crisp in your drops, be in command of who you are, act like you’ve thrown that ball before, which we all have,” Rush said. “Forget everything else and go throw.”
Rush primarily worked out of the shotgun in college but will have to remind scouts he can perform under center. They also want to see him use a wider base as he sets to throw.
One area they won’t question is his intelligence. After getting a degree in actuarial science with a 3.86 grade-point average, Rush attended the 2016 National Scholar-Athlete Awards.
Those traits become a major plus for quarterbacks because they are required to rapidly process information in the NFL. Rush has shown that this week, drawing up plays in team meetings and interviews. He worked in Pensacola, Fla., with quarterback coach David Morris leading into the combine.
“He’s prepared me for this process extremely well,” Rush said.
Rush also came to the combine after leaning on Central Michigan coach John Bonamego, who was an NFL assistant coach for 16 years and has made many trips to Indianapolis for the event. It gave Rush a head start on what teams were thinking in meeting rooms.
“He gave me countless pointers and he’s been real supportive throughout the process,” Rush said. “Anything I need I ask.”
The most helpful: “Own it. Be yourself, Own who you are. That’s usually what works best with people through the process.”