West Ranch running back Jeff Coprich pounds the books as hard as he pounds opposing linebackers. His hard work in the classroom and on the football field has paid off in a scholar athlete of the year award.
Coprich won the Watkins State of California Scholar Athlete of the Year award honoring the top African-American scholar athlete in the state. He carries a 3.5 grade point average at West Ranch and led the football team with 1,246 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns.
Coprich, who transferred from Golden Valley to West Ranch for his senior season, said he started playing football almost by accident.
“One day, I was going to practice with my little cousin and got recruited by a coach there,” Coprich told the Franklin D. Watkins Memorial Award staff. He confessed that basketball was his original passion but, “I always liked playing street football.”
The California and National Watkins Award ceremonies will be at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles on Feb. 18. The National Alliance of African American Athletes will honor a group of high school scholar athletes from across the nation at the ceremony.
According to a release from the Watkins Memorial staff, Coprich raises funds for books to donate to a library in Watts named after his sister Essence Coprich. She and a 2-year-old cousin were killed in a car crash when Jeff Coprich was 3 years old. Essence was 7 when she died.
“I’ve been through so much, it’s made me stronger as a person and a player,” he said.
Coprich has offers to play football in college from West Point, Montana and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.
Follow Tim Haddock on Twitter @thaddock.