The fate of the 2022 Dallas Cowboys just might lie in the hands of Cooper Rush. Wait, who? You’re probably not alone if you’re asking that question. When the Cowboys lost their season opener against the Buccaneers, they also lost starting quarterback Dak Prescott, whose hand fracture is expected to sideline him for up to two months, though team owner Jerry Jones is now projecting — or verbally dreaming about — an earlier return. No matter what, we’re poised to see a lot more of Rush.
The 28-year-old backup replaced Prescott at the end of Dallas’ Week 1 loss, and he’s primed to remain under center until Prescott is healthy again. But again, who is he, really? What’s his backstory? And what can Cowboys fans expect? Here’s everything you need to know.
King of the scout team
Rush isn’t a newbie to America’s Team. In fact, he’s been something of a team staple for five years, albeit behind the scenes. Undrafted out of Central Michigan in 2017, he’s never appeared in more than five games during a single season, yet he’s remained one of Dallas’ top three QBs basically since entering the NFL. An internal favorite for his smarts and practice habits more than his arm talent, his anonymous presence dates back his college days, when he was crowned Offensive Scout Team Player of the Year as a redshirt freshman.
A proven injury replacement
Well, sort of. Rush was called upon once in 2021, when a calf injury prevented Prescott from starting a Week 8 Monday night game against the Vikings. He fared quite well, going 24 of 40 for 325 yards, two touchdowns and one interception in a 20-16 victory, feeding Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb to control the clock. He hasn’t started any other games during his NFL career.
Once beat out his current coach for a job
Rush originally made the Cowboys as the third-string QB to start his rookie year, in 2017. Later that season, he got the promotion to become Prescott’s primary backup. The guy he replaced? Kellen Moore, who was relegated to the practice squad and eventually released, only to return as the team’s QBs coach in 2018, then become offensive coordinator a year later.
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A big winner (in high school)
Before Rush set records at Central Michigan and settled into the Cowboys’ bench, he was a star in the capital of Michigan, leading Lansing Catholic High School to back-to-back undefeated seasons in 2009-2010. As a senior, he threw a whopping 4,002 yards and 48 touchdowns, while running for 16 more, to lead his team to a 13-1 finish as state runners-up. In total, Rush went a combined 25-5 as a three-year starter at Lansing Catholic.
Went viral for two Hail Mary endings
Rush is apparently something of a magnet for wild endings. In 2014, starting the Bahamas Bowl against Western Kentucky, he led Central Michigan back from a 35-point fourth-quarter deficit, most notably delivering a Hail Mary bomb to receiver Jesse Kroll, who began a string of laterals that put the Chippewas in the end zone with a chance to tie or win on the ensuing conversion. Two years later, Rush was at it again, this time completing another Hail Mary shot to Kroll against Oklahoma State, securing an upset win after Kroll again lateraled the ball to a teammate.
Flirted with a rival
Rush’s only NFL work outside of Dallas came in 2020, when he was released upon Andy Dalton’s arrival as Prescott’s new backup and subsequently claimed by the Giants. He lasted just a few weeks on New York’s practice squad before his release early in the year, and the Cowboys promptly re-signed him after Prescott went down with a season-ending ankle injury that October.