Baylor Cupp realized during his sophomore year of high school he had to do a lot in a little amount of time if he wanted to achieve his dream of playing at the highest level of college football.
So the Brock standout did just that, becoming one of the best tight ends in the United States and earning himself a scholarship to play for the Texas A&M Aggies this fall.
“I was midway through my junior year and no offers. I got concerned I might not get an offer, much less from a big school,” Cupp said.
It wasn’t for a lack of talent. Cupp, who stands 6-foot-6 and 248 pounds, has an abundance of that.
Cupp is rated as a five-star recruit, the No. 1 tight end in the country, No. 2 player in Texas, and No. 16 prospect in the country, according to 247Sports.com.
He was, however, battling back from a broken shoulder blade and a severe ankle injury that wiped out what he thought would be a great sophomore season.
All he could do was watch his Brock teammates.
“I’ve never gone that long without playing football. I was frustrated. I wanted out there,” he said.
And when he finally did return to the field as a junior, his impact was immediately felt. He excelled at both blocking and catching passes - in an offense that was heavily run-oriented. However, when the Eagles did go to the air, Cupp was the go-to receiver.
“After his sophomore year, during the spring, he matured because of the injuries. From that point forward he just got better and better,” Brock Coach Chad Worrell said.
Good enough that he caught the attention of first-year Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher, whose signing of Cupp made him one of the first two NCAA Division I signees in Brock’s short football history. The other is Cupp’s good friend since the second grade, offensive tackle John Brunner, who signed with the University of North Texas.
“It’s a great honor to join John in this. I think this is proof that Brock is on the map for other kids,” Cupp said.
“You talk about size, speed, power, length. I mean, how many guys can do that?” Fisher said. “And then he catches the ball and runs, and plays offense, plays defense.”
No less than 18 top-level schools made an offer to Cupp, including perennial power Alabama, along with the likes of Georgia, LSU, Notre Dame, Penn State, and Texas. This despite Cupp not making the camps circuit like a lot of players.
“Yeah, he’s as good as anybody out there,” Fisher said. “He didn’t go to all the crazy camps, didn’t go promote himself. He said ‘I know what I want to do and I know where I want to come.’
“He’s just a ballplayer. He’s a kid who’s smart. He’s tough, and those guys are hard matchups, man. He ran 4.55 (40-yard dash) in our camp two or three different times. Broad jump 10-6. Vertical 36 inches. The things he did athletically just were amazing.”
One camp Cupp did attend, however, was Fisher’s at A&M. It was there they gained a strong mutual admiration and respect for each other.
“He’s very down-to-earth and likes hard-working people,” Cupp said of Fisher.
“He went through three days of camp. A lot of guys come to a day or two. He went through three days, every rep of every drill of everything he did. He just loves to play ball,” Fisher said. “You’ve got guys like that who have that kind of ability…now you don’t ever predict futures for anybody, but they have it and they have the right mentality.”
Though Cupp was not an Aggies fan - he wasn’t a fan of any college team, he said - he knew after visiting that A&M was where he wanted to play. And his plans, he said, are to be competing for a spot in the starting lineup as soon as spring practice starts.
He couldn’t wait to get to College Station once he graduated early from Brock in December. He’s majoring in business management.
And he’s ready to face the weekly challenges that playing in the Southeast Conference offer. Besides Alabama having been in the past four national championship games (winning two), the conference has produced nine national champions (Alabama with five, Florida with two, Auburn and LSU one each) and five runners-up (Alabama two, Auburn, LSU and Georgia one each).
“I told myself if I can’t dominate at this level (high school), I won’t be very good in the SEC,” Cupp said.
Cupp has a history of football success in his family. His father played collegiately at Louisiana Tech and at the semi-pro level with the Weatherford/Texas Bullets, who have won some semi-pro state and national titles.
Cupp transferred to Aledo in junior high because Brock had yet to add football to its sports curriculum. After football was approved in Brock, he transferred back midway through his freshman year.
“I was excited. Nothing against Aledo, but Brock is home,” he said. “From first grade on we were playing bigger schools and winning (in peewee football), so we knew we could be great right away.”
Indeed the Eagles have been, including winning a Class 3A Division I state championship in 2015 in only their second season of UIL eligibility.
In Cupp’s two varsity seasons, the Eagles were 26-5. They reached the 3A Division I title game in 2017 and returned to the semifinals in 2018.
“He left a great legacy at Brock,” Worrell said. “He worked hard, is super athletic, a great kid, team captain, and most of all he showed that if you want something bad enough you can get it.”