By Christina Rivers
Name: Chad Bumphis – WR – #16
Weight: 200 lbs.
Hometown: Tupelo, MS
College: Mississippi State
Rookie wide receiver Chad Bumphis wasn’t the main attraction during training camp for the Miami Dolphins, that is, until he became the center of attention for a short time during the Hall of Fame Game against the Dallas Cowboys.
Stepping from obscurity, the undrafted player led all receivers in the game with five catches for 85 yards. The highest for a Dolphins player in a preseason game since Brandon Marshall gained 90 yards on two catches against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on August 27, 2011. Bumphis’ longest catch went for 45 yards.
Bumphis joined the Dolphins as an undrafted rookie free agent following the NFL Draft.
Prior to camp, Bumphis was honing his skills as the primary playmaker for the Mississippi State Bulldogs. Bumphis caught 101 passes for 1,351 yards and 12 touchdowns between 2009-11. During his senior season, Bumphis caught 58 receptions for 922 yards and 12 touchdowns. His total receiving yards of 2,273 broke the school record. During the East-West Shrine Game in St. Petersburgh, Florida, Bumphis caught four passes for 92 yards and a touchdown, earning him MVP honors.
While the Dolphins try to discover themselves as a team, Bumphis has been focused on discovering himself. “As a guy trying to make the team, you’ve got to go out and play every quarter,” Bumphis told MiamiDolphins.com. “If they put you in, they’re giving you an opportunity to go out and show what you can do.”
Bumphis has put himself squarely in contention for a roster spot for the Dolphins. With veterans like Brian Hartline, Brandon Gibson and Mike Wallace, Bumphis has the mentoring available to him. After his showing in the Hall of Fame Game, Bumphis may have fast-tracked himself in the minds of the Dolphins’ coaching staff.
“Bumphis has caught the ball in practice,” Miami Head Coach Joe Philbin said. “You watch the film after the day in practice, the kid gets open, he catches the ball.”
Bumphis has showed excellent skills during training camp – the kind that translate to NFL playing time. Bumphis has the speed to get open and create opportunities, especially downfield. However his height is holding him back. 5’11 is considered small for a wide receiver, and Bumphis will have to continue fighting for opportunities if he wants the coaching staff to forget about his short stature.
His performance is causing many scouts, analysts, and coaches to wonder how they overlooked him before the NFL Draft.
ESPN analyst, James Walker, admitted that he owes Bumphis an apology for not paying attention to his play. “He’s been making plays with regularity in training camp,” Walker posted on his NFL blog. “But I’ve mostly looked the other way.” The days of overlooking Bumphis may be over.
By self-admission, Bumphis says his main focus is learning the offense and bettering himself and the team.
“Everyone wants to compete. You’ve just got to look at yourself at the end of the day,” said Bumphis. “The main thing is to compete and get better every day. I think if I do that, then everything else will fall in place.”
If it does, it’s only a matter of time before Bumphis is turning the heads of opposing defenders and fans as they watch him sprint past them.
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Christina Rivers is freelance journalist and photographer with a life-long love of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Credentialed with the organization, Christina provides a unique perspective gained through her knowledge and understanding of Steelers history, the Rooney family and relationships with past and present players. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.