In May Cooper Rush started his initial NFL training after being drafted to the Dallas Cowboys. The draft was a big step for the recent graduate of Central Michigan University. Rush knew the Cowboys were going to be the best-fit team for him, and after his first weeks of initial training in Dallas, the merit of his decision was affirmed.

“It’s been good so far,” said Rush. “It’s a lot of fun being part of that organization.”

Rush was pleased by the welcome he and the other rookies received from the coaches, and other players as well. He immediately felt comfortable to be part of a new team, but the challenge to prove himself was still present.

“I’m walking by future hall of famers … It motivates you,” he said. “They expect you to be part of the team … act like a professional, and do what you need to do to better yourself.”

It still hasn’t fully hit the Charlotte native that playing football is a livelihood. In his fellow players he sees men who are taking their game seriously because it’s how they support their families. Rush is trying to approach the game with the same mentality. He’s dedicating his time to studying the plays, getting his mind in tune with his teammates, and bringing a professional level of focus.

The first few weeks of his training were essentially focused on the brainwork of the game. Rush and his teammates were going through plays, memorizing movements, and getting down the muscle memory. Learning terminology, watching film, and knowing where each play is going has been a simultaneous challenge and relief for Rush.

“It’s nice to just focus on football,” said Rush as he recalled his not so distant college days of balancing football with dozens of classes and assignments.

That focus exists in his coaches as well. Rush is grateful that his coaches can now focus solely on the players and the games, as opposed to coaches who had to keep track of students’ grades and other factors.

Rush will be home in Michigan until mid-July. He plans to take some downtime with family, rest his brain, and recuperate before heading to California for the physically intense preseason camp. California will be where he and the other rookies really show off their ability to execute those memorized plays.

While the step into professional football has presented its challenges, Rush is confident so far in his ability to keep up with the demands. The time to focus solely on his game has provided him the opportunity to always put his best foot forward. He is learning what he needs to and is trying to go the extra mile in every area, and in the end Rush knows that’s all he can do.

“Being a professional you take care of your job, do what you need to do on the field, be the best player you can be… Now it’s just all ball,” he said.