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P.J. Fleck sees CMU's Cooper Rush as high draft choice

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NFL fans might not know the name Cooper Rush, but few knew the name Carson Wentz at this time a year ago, either.

And while it remains to be seen whether the Central Michigan quarterback will rise to be the No. 2 pick of the NFL draft as Wentz was for the Philadelphia Eagles, Western Michigan coach P.J. Fleck believes Rush will be a 2017 draft prize just the same.

"I think he'll (Rush) be an incredibly high draft pick," Fleck said, according to the Detroit Free-Press. "I got a chance to watch him over the course of the last three years and he makes everybody around him better."

Rush will oppose WMU Broncos quarterback Zach Terrell Saturday in a Mid-American Conference battle featuring two of the top passers in the Group of Five conferences. Fleck went on to praise Rush's leadership, accuracy, and arm strength, along with being an elite decision-maker.

Rush (6-3, 230 pounds) threw for a season-high 402 yards in a loss to Virginia Saturday, and shredded Oklahoma State's secondary for 368 yards and four touchdown passes Sept. 10 in the Chippewas' stunning and controversial upset of the Cowboys. It's games like those, against Power Five conference opponents, that NFL scouts will value more in evaluating the senior's draft stock. There isn't another Power Five opponent on CMU's schedule, although Rush could get one more chance to face an Power Five defense in a bowl matchup.

Terrell (6-2, 204), also a senior, has been outstanding this season as well with nine touchdown passes without an interception, and a completion rate of nearly 70 percent.

With the early-season success Wentz has enjoyed for the 3-0 Eagles, NFL clubs could be all the more attuned to potential quarterback finds at smaller schools for the 2017 NFL Draft. Particularly at a position where talent is in short supply, and depth is crucial.

If Fleck is right, Rush is a name to remember.

Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter @ChaseGoodbread.

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