Kennesaw State's Justin Sumpter has been with the Owls since their very first game back in Sept. 2015 … and on Tuesday the talented receiver will spend his last day together with his fellow KSU seniors. But there won't be much time for reflection because Tuesday is KSU's annual Pro Day … the school's first full version where that very first full senior class will workout together in front of NFL Scouts.
What makes Sumpter so intriguing is the combination of his size (6-foot-3, 217 pounds) and his ability to produce at a high level in what has routinely been one of the most effective run offenses in the FCS level, or Division I, for that matter. In his four-year career, Kennesaw State's option attack ran the ball nearly 2,800 times, while throwing only 661 passes. When they did opt to toss it around, there was Sumpter, ready to break down defenses — catching 111 of KSU's 344 completions and averaging 18 yards per catch.
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Many times, option offenses feature that one big deep-threat receiver to keep defenses honest. Sumpter has been that guy. He has proven he can block, which is an absolute must in the NFL, and he's proven he can be a deep threat. Now? He has some other things to prove, he told HERO Sports.
"For the most part, coming from that offense, (blocking and being a deep threat) was my job, you're right on track with that," Sumpter told HERO Sports. "The main two things scouts have been talking about is can I run routes and my 40 time. Most of my routes (at KSU) were fades, so one of the big questions coming into Tuesday is can I run comebacks, runs and curls. They know I can block."
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He said he has heard from many that it would be ideal to be hitting the 4.5 mark in the 40-yard dash, so we worked in Nashville on technique — both to boost performance and even get that first 10-yard blast fine-tuned.
Sumpter began wondering if he might have a shot at pro football when he blew up in a good way his sophomore year. He caught eight touchdowns in just eight games of action and the young program (began in 2014, first game in 2015) was beginning to turn heads and make people wonder if it might become some sort of powerhouse. Well that's exactly what happened, as Sumpter was one key reason the program flourished, winning two Big South titles and making FCS playoff pushes the past two seasons. On Tuesday, 29 athletes from 14 different schools will participate in Pro Day — many obviously being the same guys who Sumpter sweated within the fall of 2014 as freshmen, with no games scheduled.
Joe Alexander, Randy Jones, McKenzie Billingslea, Anthony Gore, Darnell Holland, Xavier Harper and Myles Hughes will represent KSU.
"It'll be the last time we're on the field together, and I'll be thinking about that," Sumpter said. "I may have flashbacks to the first time we were together and how terrible we were back then, and now we're in front of NFL scouts together … I started to think about this maybe around my sophomore year going into my junior year. I saw my name was buzzing some on Twitter, and on my junior day they called me to come talk to scouts and stuff. I thought I might have a real chance. I remember thinking I guess we do have a shot."
As usual for FCS products, there will be expectations of playing on special teams. Sumpter is ready for that, saying he actually wanted to do it his senior year to prove he could do it, but KSU head coach Brian Bohannon knew better than to risk his star WR on special teams.
Tuesday's the big job interview, and Sumpter is ready … along with all of his brothers who started playing together for the Owls five years ago, with no opponent besides the blocking dummies and the calendar.
Now look at them.
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