STOCKTON, Calif. — Troy Kopp has a very practical view of the world. He doesn't take much for granted.
So despite setting a host of NCAA and school records this season, the University of the Pacific's sophomore quarterback isn't letting himself get too caught up in his accomplishments. Kopp has seen enough lows in his life to give him some perspective on the highs.
"I try not to set a lot of lofty goals," he said. "I just try to keep modest goals and be realistic. I'm trying to improve as a team player and as a quarterback. Every day, my goal is to improve."
Kopp won't be able to top recent performances by much. He threw for more than 500 yards in back-to-back games and totaled 1,884 yards in four consecutive games this year. He has set the school single-season record for touchdown passes with 25, with one game left against Utah State on Saturday.
But the 19-year-old certainly has come a long way in his two years at UOP, particularly given his background. Though a record-setting passer at Mission Viejo High School in Orange County, Kopp spent three years shuttling among the houses of various teammates because his family was virtually homeless.
When Kopp was 13, his father, Gary, lost his job as a district shoe salesman and had to sell the family's three-bedroom house. That summer, Gary, his wife, Judy, and sons Troy, Travis and Trevor lived in a state park, sleeping in a tent or in the family van.
At the end of the summer, Judy Kopp and Troy's brothers went to Wisconsin to stay with relatives, while Gary remained to look for work. Troy, then a high school sophomore, moved in with a friend.
In the next three years, Kopp lived with three families. And while most of his classmates in affluent Mission Viejo were cruising around in BMWs, Kopp was bumming rides to school.
"What really struck me is that another coach came in for an early class one day and found out that Troy was showering in the locker room before class," said Ron Drake, Kopp's baseball coach and an assistant football coach at Mission Viejo. "We wondered, 'What's going on?'
"It turned out he was living with his family in a hotel eight miles from school, and he had to depend on other kids to give him rides to school."
Said UOP coach Walt Harris: "It's a tremendous credit to Troy. He was the only one in that situation -- there were no others he could relate to. At least if you're poor in the ghetto, there are people you can identify with."
According to Kopp, so much attention has been focused on his family's plight of late that he no longer feels comfortable discussing it. He was featured recently in Sports Illustrated and the Los Angeles Times, among other publications.
"I don't want anyone to feel sorry for me," Kopp said. "I don't want recognition for that. I'm kind of tired of reading about it. It's getting stretched -- now I've even got movie producers calling up."
Kopp believes he should be earning notice for his performance on the field. And well he should. The 6-foot-2, 200-pounder is the only player in NCAA history to throw for more than 500 yards in consecutive games. Kopp also set an NCAA record for passing yardage in consecutive games, with 1,079 yards against Cal State Fullerton and New Mexico State, then set marks for passing yardage in three consecutive games and four consecutive games.
And this is a kid who wasn't recruited strongly out of high school. The only coach to show much interest in Kopp was Harris, who was an assistant at Tennessee when Kopp was a senior at Mission Viejo. Then Harris accepted the job at Pacific.
"There's kind of an unwritten rule that you're not supposed to recruit the same guy when you move to another school, and I had a lot of respect for Tennessee, so I stopped recruiting Troy," Harris said. "Then we found out Tennessee wasn't interested in Troy, so we jumped back in there. We hung with him when everyone else fell off."
Said Kopp: "Tennessee just dumped me. I was frustrated; I didn't know if it was just one of those years or maybe it was me.
"But I feel very lucky now, looking back on it. I couldn't ask for more than to have this type of education and play in this type of offense."
Fullerton coach Gene Murphy was among those who overlooked Kopp, though he was right there in Orange County. Kopp passed for 515 yards and seven touchdowns against in Titans in a 67-37 road victory Oct. 13.
"It was uncanny the way Kopp threw the ball that day," Murphy said. "That was a career game. And he probably could have had more yards; they ran the ball more the second half.
"People here are on me for not recruiting him, but we don't have the wherewithal to recruit every quarterback in captivity."
UOP's offense has been a blessing for Kopp. The run-and-shoot, with four receivers, makes liberal use of his accurate arm. In addition, Kopp has gotten good protection.