Eric Kumah Among the Front of the Pack of Inexperienced Virginia Tech Wide Receivers

Holmon Wiggins details the progression of Kumah, Sam Denmark, Phil Patterson, and Kalil Pimpleton.

Eric Kumah (No. 83) [Mark Umansky]

At the turn of the new year, Virginia Tech's wide receivers room was hit with a 1-2 punch it hoped it would have another year to prepare to absorb. Junior wideouts Bucky Hodges and Isaiah Ford declared early for the NFL draft. With such a large portion of the Hokies' receptions (45.5%), receiving yards (48.8%), and touchdowns (45.2%) from 2016 in pursuit of an NFL paycheck, a major task for Tech this spring was to find wideouts to fill the void. Enter Eric Kumah.

The 6-2, 210 pound Forest Park HS product (Woodbridge, VA) may not have caught a ball his freshman season, but he's making plays this spring.

"When his number's been called, and the ball's in the air, he's done a good job of fighting and scrapping and taking it out of the air which we need a lot of," WRs coach Holmon Wiggins said Tuesday. "To kinda see him make some strides and kinda start making some plays, I'm excited about it."

Justin Fuente reiterated Wiggins' observation of Kumah.

"Eric has come out and won some 50/50 balls, and some contested throws," Fuente said. "He's intelligent you can move him around and do some different things. He's been the guy that hasn't played very much that has done some good things so far this spring."

Kumah credited part of his development to watching another "bigger receiver" — Hodges — last season.

"I think learning how to read defenses, knowing how to use my body... being more coordinated, just learning how to use my body has helped me so far," Kumah said about the evolution of his game last Tuesday.

And might Kumah's longer frame lend him to a fill a jump-ball receiver's role...

"At the end of the day, we're gonna basically scratch where it itches," said Wiggins. "So the ball's gonna find who it's supposed to find, so ya know. He's showing that he can be that guy. He's shown that he can be answer for us if the ball's in the air, so we'll continue to go from there and build on top of that, and we're still halfway through spring so there's a lot still to be done."

Besides knowing, as Wiggins put it, that Cam Phillips will be Tech's "bell cow" in 2017, there's plenty of uncertainty at wideout for the Hokies.

"I would stop short of saying depth," said Fuente. "We're just trying to find three guys to start."

That evaluation is compounded by C.J. Carroll sidelined, and speedster Henri Murphy, who Wiggins noted was "nicked up" apparently missing time too. Moreover, Tech's up-tempo offense would benefit from more fresh legs in the slot and out wide, but not at the cost of dependability.

"At Memphis we rotated seven, eight guys," said Wiggins. "Will we get to that point? Ya know, I'm still getting to the point where we can trust a good four, five guys."

In addition to Kumah, other young blood is making strides at WR for Tech this spring. Phil Patterson was part of the travel roster for half of last season, and the coaches flirted with the idea of pulling his redshirt when Ford was dinged up against North Carolina.

"Phil, he's showing some promise," said Wiggins. "Sam Denmark is a guy that is starting to kinda show that he's a little more comfortable with what we're asking him to do. Kalil Pimpleton, I think he's starting to show us he's exactly what we thought that we were recruiting. So I'm excited about that group, but we still have a long way to go."

Wiggins noted Denmark, who won the South Carolina Class 3A State titles in both the 100- and 200-meter, flashed more of that trackstar speed thus far this spring.

"Well right now [Denmark's] given ample opportunity to go out there and showcase what he can do," said Wiggins. "When he got here a year ago, we felt like he was just so far off from what we were trying to ask those guys to do and that he needed to learn, he needed to redshirt and kinda pick it up, and now he's showing what he can do. He's actually playing a whole lot faster than what he came in as, and that was one of the things that we kinda struggle with. We knew that he can run, ya know, knew that he had some ability, but we couldn't really tell. And I think it was probably him digesting a lot of stuff that we were asking him to do, but now you can actually see him actually going out there and playing instead of thinking about it."

The aforementioned Pimpleton seems to have caught the eye of the coaches more than any other early enrollees.

"Well, he's a smart kid," said Wiggins. "He loves ball. That's the one thing when you talk about a kid with his measurables (5-8, 153), you gotta kinda have a chip on your shoulder and I think he plays with that. He's smart, he's tough, and he is dynamic with the ball in his hands. So, ya know, we're looking at him a little bit in the return game and when we're spitting out kinda some of our jet sweeps and bubble stuff he looks pretty good just as far as kinda playing against that first guy in open space. But it's been good to kinda see him hold down the information that we're throwing at him, ya know, 'cause he's getting a lot of reps, especially with a few for those guys kinda being nicked up. He's actually done a good job taking the bull by the horns and trying to learn as much as he can, ask the right questions, and kinda see what some of those guys are doing that he needs to do to basically make himself better."

Comments

Nice write up Sam. Gotta love shiny new toys. Can't wait to see how we use the new weapons!

Indeed, shiny new toys. I'm excited to see the in real games and truly show their stuff. Practice is one thing, real games is another. I hope their confidence grows with their skills.

Exciting times ahead!

He loves ball.

If you're reading the above post and thinking, "is this guy serious?!?," you can safely assume I'm not.

Good to hear some of the names like Denmark, Patterson, and Kumah are picking things up this spring. We will really need them to learn quickly and be ready for fall.

Come to Blacksburg and see what the Hokie Pokie is really all about

Junior wideouts Bucky Hodges and Isaiah Ford declared early for the NFL draft. With such a large portion of the Hokies' receptions (45.5%), receiving yards (48.8%), and touchdowns (45.2%)

Actually lower numbers than I thought. Ready for Cam's breakout season. Sounds like the supporting staff is coming along. Awesome insight!

“I turned down 12 other opportunities. You know what I mean?” - Fuente

I wonder what those numbers look like with Rogers' contribution to the receiving game?

Nevermind, I looked it up.

Rogers contributed 24 receptions, 301 yards, and 4 receiving TDs. So, adding his numbers to Hodges' and Ford's and we're looking at the following losses:
54.1% of receptions
57% of receiving yards
58.1% of receiving TDs

Also, as an aside, in Cam Phillips, we return 76 receptions (27.2% of team total), 983 yards (26.9%), and 5 receiving TDs (16.1%). We were 17 yards from having two 1,000 receivers last year!!

Warning: this post occasionally contains strong language (which may be unsuitable for children), unusual humor (which may be unsuitable for adults), and advanced mathematics (which may be unsuitable for liberal-arts majors)..

Thanks for the number crunching. He had a very underrated year... let's just hope he stays healthy.

“I turned down 12 other opportunities. You know what I mean?” - Fuente

His numbers really picked up when other teams were trying to defend Hodges and Ford. I'd venture to say that he'll struggle to match those numbers this year because he'll be the main guy that other teams will focus on. It's why it's imperative that the young guys step up and pick up the slack.

Not so sure it works like that anymore in today's spread offenses.

D is forced to cover everyone.

I think he's poised for an even bigger year of production.

Other teams "trying to defend Hodges and Ford" resulted in those two guys setting records for their respective positions (if you really consider Bucky a TE). So if that's what getting focused on means, then I look forward to Cam being our third receiver to break 1000 this year.

Warning: this post occasionally contains strong language (which may be unsuitable for children), unusual humor (which may be unsuitable for adults), and advanced mathematics (which may be unsuitable for liberal-arts majors)..

I look forward to Cam being our third receiver to break 1000 this year.

Technically, he'd be the 2nd receiver to break 1000, since Isaiah did it twice.

OR, do you mean that we'll have 3 receivers hit 1000 yards this year and Cam will be the 3rd one to do so?

.....
95% of what I say is sarcastic. The other 5% is usually taken out of context.

It was a running joke that we've had two 1000 yard receivers at Tech: Isaiah Ford and Isaiah Ford.

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running joke or catching joke?

Another white bronco? The first one didn't go too far.

first was andre davis.

The other part I find amusing about this is people somehow thinking that Cam getting more looks is going to translate into fewer yards for him? I get the idea of saying that maybe our receiving corps as a whole will take a step back, but I find it silly to suggest an individual player's numbers would go down because of getting more targets.

Sam definitely put up big numbers for a fullback. Can't help but predict that those duties in the passing game will fall to McMillian/Peoples (and maybe Dalton Keene?).

Even though Sam was listed as a FB (H-back for Fuente) I would be interested to see how many receptions/rec yards he had while specifically lined up at H-back. I could be completely wrong but I feel like the overwhelming majority of his catches came when he was lined up as a RB or WR.

Sometimes I like to leave off the /s just to mess with people.

Sam caught a couple long passes from the H-back on the play action pop passes to the seam if I remember correctly.

"I'm too drunk to taste this chicken" - Colonel Sanders via Ricky Bobby

You also have to remember that a good amount of Cam's yards last season were off of bubble screens and quick routes (slants/hitches). So if you were to really dive into the stats you'd see that a VERY large percentage of Tech's downfield throws (10 yards or more) are gone.

Very true... here's to hoping that James Clark can stretch the field. If we can use him like the Ravens used Torrey Smith or the Steelers used Mike Wallace, that would really open up the field like we haven't seen in a number of years.

“I turned down 12 other opportunities. You know what I mean?” - Fuente

Defenses also started to focus on Ford and Hodges, which resulted in Cam getting more passes. It will be interesting to see how he does with defenses focusing on him this fall. This is why the young kids have to step up.

I think Cam is poised for a monster season. He looks unreal in the little bit of video coming out of spring practice. I'm going to go ahead and predict he has a huge year and is an even more highly regarded pro prospect than Ford this year.

Gonna be cool seeing what the rotation is in the fall.

We have a lot to choose from and be able to mix and match to our needs on a given play or show a certain play type to get the defense thinking something else is coming with a particular set of receivers out there. The coaches mention they want 7 or 8 guys they can rely on and from what I have been reading it looks like the direction it could be are:

  • Cam Philips - SR - 6'0 - 199
  • Eric Kumah - SO - 6'2 - 210
  • Sam Denmark - r.FR - 6'0 - 183
  • Phil Patterson - r.FR - 6'2 - 180
  • CJ Carrol - r.JR - 5'8 - 167
  • Kalil Pimpleton - FR - 5'8 - 153
  • James Clark - SR - 5'10 - 186
  • And just for fun

  • Caleb Farley - FR - 6'2 - 180

I also can't help but notice that there are at least two of every body type. I think this group has a chance to at least maintain our offensive performance from last year. Also, spreading the ball out to our speedy receivers will help open the running game up the middle. I think it's always a good thing to have options

The offense is definitely more suited this season to be a spread out, speed attack as opposed to a power run/downfield throwing offense of last season. Receivers have gone from big and imposing to shifty and quick.

Would not classify our offense as a power run/downfield throwing offense last season...

I would say it was more QB draws up the, a fullback running the ball, deep routes by a 6'7" receiver......it wasn't Wisconsin's offense but it sure as hell wasn't Oregon's.

Can agree with you there. The WR routes were generally shorter for the most part with a lot less vertically challenging defenses.

Also don't forget that our QB could have been more consistently accurate on the longer passes.

Oregons offense is running and short passes...

I love the big play as much as the next guy, but I think it's better to kill em with a thousand nicks. And with what I have been hearing/reading about Jackson, he is smart enough to get the ball where it needs to go. You don't have to get a first down every throw but you definitely want to stay on the positive side of things. I'm pretty excited for this next season

"kill em with a thousand nicks." Is that like being nibbled to death by ducks?

Reel men fish on Wednesdays

I think the more common term is "kill em with high cholesterol from a thousand turkey legs."

If you're reading the above post and thinking, "is this guy serious?!?," you can safely assume I'm not.

All we need is another rolling ball of butcher knives like Sam Rogers.

Take the shortest route to the ball and arrive in bad humor.

We have seen the tons of short passing throws used successfully in the ACC before. It also at times opens up the middle for good runs because the lb's and corners are just looking for the short, screen, and crossing routes.

Farley is CB now, we'll see if he gets chance to play WR as well.
Hopefully, Henri Murphy will be okay, so he will likely be in top 6.
Also, Savoy and Grimsley arrive next fall, so hopefully they will shine quickly.

The key is getting all these young WRs to play up to the level that we had with the big 3 last year, and I have faith that CJF, Corny, and HW will get it done in time...I just hope it is before we play WVA.

HH4455

Yay, someone mentioned my boy Henri Murphy!

I'm predicting 4th most receptions on the team for Murphy. (Phillps (85), Patterson (50), Carroll (45), Murphy (30))

Hopefully that means that he hasn't suffered an injury that sidelines him this season.

But if he's our 4th most productive receiver with a torn ACL in spring that could mean pretty bad stuff for our offense this year

If a tree falls in Scott Stadium does it make a sound?

Well, obviously not if he tore his ACL.

Great info, thanks.

Don't forget about Henri. He's on the mend, right?

"That man was violating a city ordinance, and I was just doing my duty to enforce it." - Mike Curtis

"..because anytime you go upside a man's head, or a woman's, they have a tendency to blink their eyes.." - Deacon Jones

5'8 and 153#'s. I hope he is fast because one hit from a miami lb and he is not getting up again...

I can imagine no more rewarding a career. And any man who may be asked in this century what he did to make his life worthwhile, I think can respond with a good deal of pride and satisfaction:
“I served in the United States Navy"

KCCO

He looks bigger than 153 in that picture of him with his shirt off. He may be vertically challenged, but he seems stout enough. He sure has some wiggle in the video clips, though.

He only needs to be smart

They'll find ways to pack at least 20 pounds on Kalil, get him up to at least 170-175 lbs., and he'll be ok.

I hope CJ comes back 100%, cause I love the way he plays.......FEARLESS!

"That man was violating a city ordinance, and I was just doing my duty to enforce it." - Mike Curtis

"..because anytime you go upside a man's head, or a woman's, they have a tendency to blink their eyes.." - Deacon Jones

He played high school QB and ran a lot I'm sure he's taken his fair share of hits from linebackers

Sorry, I had to chuckle. At that size, he'd have trouble with the Blacksburg Girls Varsity Soccer Team...LOL. My 9th grade daughter has an inch on him and only 10 lbs less and can provide a vicous hit, if necessary.

He's going to need serious time getting Hilgartified, and a few hours on the rack wouldn't hurt.

He certainly looks intense.

This should go without saying, but I don't think we need to see a pic of Bburg_73's daughter without a shirt for a true side by side comparison.

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9th grade dude.

Sometimes I like to leave off the /s just to mess with people.

I got the "Don't" first thing 07ME. No worries. LOL.

She doesn't have him in the arms department, for sure, but I believe her legs are easily as ripped.

Used to play softball with some ex Hokies. My left shoulder is permanently damaged from a collision at third base with Mike Giaccalone, former Hokie receiver. I outweighed him by at least 20lbs, and we were about the same height, but hitting that dude was like being hit by a brick wall running at me at 60mph. Solid is as solid does, size is relative, as goes the old saw about the dog in the fight, fight in the dog.

Reel men fish on Wednesdays

Can't argue that...Not much more you can add to the already ripped. MiniHulk? Hopefully, his speed can help him avoid taking that "devastating" hit from any player, mascot or cheerleader that will likely outweigh him.

I am looking forward to having a hard time seeing him on the field until he pops up past the secondary, heading for 6.

The coaches are really excited about his potential. Fuente and his offensive staff aren't the type to blow smoke, and are rather reserved in their assessments of personnel, but they've all raved about Pimp. Also consider they thought enough of his tape and skill fit in Tech's offense to extend and offer to a Michigan kid few, if any, recruitniks heard of at the time.

(With that said, it's always beneficial to get bigger, faster, and stronger regardless of how jacked you are.)

Do you think Clark was brought in so that Pimp can take a while to get acclimated? I mean same body type and some high end speed similarities are close.

They aren't really similar. Even though clark is undersized too, Pimp is a magnitude smaller. Clark is a track speed guy take the top off the defense guy. Pimp is a shifty stop on a dime guy. Either way Fuente just wants more bodies in general.

There was a kid who returned kicks when I was in high school with ~4.3 speed. Little guy. You would lose him going into traffic, then try to guess where he would come out. It never failed that you would breathe a sigh of relief.... right before you picked up on him 30 yards past where you expected him. We had Barry Sanders in the same city but all people could talk about was this little dude.

.

.
I never met a project that couldn't justify a new tool.

man hes got that leday scowl down pat

Taylor, looking desperately throws it deep..HAS A MAN OPEN DANNY COALE WITH A CATCH ALL THE WAY DOWN TO THE FIVE!!!!....hes still open

"At the end of the day, we're gonna basically scratch where it itches," said Wiggins.

Now that is some quality coach speak.

You will see this game, this upset and this sign next on ESPN Sportscenter. Virginia Tech 31 Miami 7

Which begs the question: Is Beamer teaching a class in coachspeak at the University? If so, sounds like Wiggins is doing well in it.

Take the shortest route to the ball and arrive in bad humor.

"I would stop short of saying depth," said Fuente. "We're just trying to find three guys to start."

Hmmmmmm.

meh, much rather hear this in spring camp than in September...or in December bowl prep.

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Agreed. They've just got some big/speedy/dependable shoes to fill.

I feel like with Beamer we got used to interpreting his coach speak. With Fuente it's hard to know if that means he's just trying to see where people stack up or if he's legitimately concerned about how things are shaping up. Personally, I'm not reading into anything until the real games start.

Correct. Fuente tells us nothing, shows us less. We don't know what will happen until the games start.

No, I *don't* want to go to the SEC. Why do you ask?

We don't love dem Hoos.

...Gotta love that VT has had mature head coaches that knew what to and what not to say. Beats Jimmy Sharpe showing up intoxicated at the pressers and getting caught at the EconoTravel with a bunch of women. Couldn't do that now.
I enjoyed Beamer's tenure, even the last few years when he had "old man's syndrome". CJF allows our imaginations to run wild during the spring and summer and as a bonus I get to learn a ton from the in-depth TKP analysis and prognostication, in preparation for the Fall.

Hadn't heard this about Sharpe....that would indeed make Whit's head explode.

Take the shortest route to the ball and arrive in bad humor.

Yep. It was all the rumor mill in '77? I was a teenager and we moved into the coaches neighborhood Charlie Coffey had built for himself and assistant coaches. We moved into Coach Clay's house. The Coffey's stayed there several years afterwards. It was the talk of the town right before Sharpe's firing and the following Dooley years. He was recommended by Bear Bryant to VT Admin. as Coffey's replacement. Rumor was he couldn't keep his Dadgummit in his breeches...LOL

I don't know about the loose Dadgummit, but Sharp admitted later he had problems related to drink. Somewhere on the net is/was a pdf of an article from his time at Pitt a couple of years after leaving Tech that fairly well sums up his feelings on the matter. Goes something like this: "I got run out of town, and for good reason." He actually was a pretty genial fellow, but from my experience hands-off (no pun intended) in regard to the coaching particulars of his coaches.

Stomp Loluva

those drinking problems will get after ya

Warning: this post occasionally contains strong language (which may be unsuitable for children), unusual humor (which may be unsuitable for adults), and advanced mathematics (which may be unsuitable for liberal-arts majors)..

I honestly never got that joke, even having seen that movie dozens of times.... "drinking problem" indeed. I always just figured it was a weird recurring sight gag and nothing more.

If you're reading the above post and thinking, "is this guy serious?!?," you can safely assume I'm not.

Just playing on "problem with the mechanics of consuming liquid" vs "alcoholism." Hooray for our imprecise language.

So many of the jokes in that movie are just a play on words or a pun.

What's our vector, Victor?

Surely, you can't be serious.
I am serious - and don't call me Shirley.

Nervous?
Yes.
First time?
No, I've been nervous lots of times.

Here are some classic lines from the movie.

"That move was slicker than a peeled onion in a bowl of snot." -Mike Burnop

People who might wonder why Bill Brill was so anti-VT in his tenure at the Roanoke Times need look no further. He told me in person that his antipathy stemmed from encounters with Sharpe, and that he had not gotten over those experiences. Sharpe was what he was, and Brill was an incredible asshole, but at least I knew a little about where his seeming hatred came from.

Reel men fish on Wednesdays

And now you know the rest of the story.

Take the shortest route to the ball and arrive in bad humor.