By Joseph Schutz
Joey Kuperman has more touches than any other Cal Poly football player in the past two years. The 6-1, 300-pound senior center is a leader on Cal Poly's offensive line and is expected to start at center for the full 2017 season.
Kuperman joined the Mustangs in 2013 as a redshirt freshman. After one year on the bench, he played in all 12 games in 2014 at left guard. In 2015, he made 11 starts as right guard. Now, he is a veteran on Cal Poly's line and has been trusted with the ball at center for the past two years.
Kuperman is a diehard San Diego native, still calling the Chargers the "San Diego Chargers." He grew up down south and started playing peewee football at the age of six. "I was forced into it by my dad, but I was thankful because I fell in love with it."
An offensive lineman at heart, Kuperman has never ventured far from the line of scrimmage. "I mean it would be cool to score a touchdown every once in a while, but it's no big deal."
A testament to Kuperman's team-focused mentality, when asked about his personal goals for the season he said, "It's to win the Big Sky Championship with my team. It's not a personal goal, but as long as I leave here with a ring, that will be more than enough for me."
In his last season at Cal Poly, Kuperman has just one goal: Win the Big Sky. He recalls a memory from his first year at Cal Poly watching the team receive its Big Sky Champions rings. That has been a driving force for him and the senior class all these years.
Another great memory for Kuperman isn't such a glorious moment, but he still appreciates it for what it is. "My first start at New Mexico State I was a redshirt freshman. I remember going in and messing up – jumping offsides on the first play."
Kuperman has come a long way since his first-game jitters, earning himself a spot on the All-Big Sky First Team last year. One thing Kuperman attributes his improvement to is playing against guys like Augustino Elisaia in practice. "There's nobody that's as big or fast that we're going to face this year."
A great offensive line is necessary for an offense like Cal Poly's to function properly. Kuperman has also played for a variety of quarterbacks from the run-heavy Chris Brown to the stoic and efficient Dano Graves. Kuperman says that Khaleel Jenkins and him have the best relationship out of the three since they are the same class and have spent the most time together over the years.
When Kuperman isn't playing football, he likes to relax and get off his feet as much as he can. He lives in a house with fellow football players, so they have the same schedule and dynamic. "I just play a lot of videogames. I'm off my feet. I like rocket league and FIFA. We'll go to the beach if we don't have a lot of physical activities that week."
Kuperman also plays golf, but prefers long holes and wide fairways so he can really crush the ball. His short game isn't so great however. Kuperman is also the commissioner for a fantasy football league. In the league are current and past Cal Poly football players. "We've had the same league going with relatively the same people for four years. It just goes back to football and it brings us together."
Kuperman compares the dynamic of their fantasy league to the show, "The League." They have punishments for the lowest weekly point total and last place in the league. Eventually, a calendar full of Cal Poly football players who lost in fantasy football will be published.
What's next for Joey Kuperman? If he could choose, he would stick with football and continue playing for as long as he can. If not, he might follow the footsteps of his parents and go to law school.
Even if Kuperman doesn't keep playing, he says he wants to stick with football in some way or another. "I have a passion for football, so some how, some way, I want to find a way back to the game regardless of if its later in life or right now."
Joseph Schutz is a senior journalism major from Sacramento