Y’all remember Chad Bumphis, yeah?
Thumbing through the record book, he’s probably the best receiver to ever play at Mississippi State. Now, the question is who he will play for next. Bumphis is in St. Petersburg, Florida, for the East-West Shrine Game, along with fellow Bulldog Josh Boyd.
The game kicks off at 3 p.m. central time Saturday on NFL Network, and oddly enough, Bumphis and Boyd will be on the West team, so don’t make the same mistake I did looking for them on the East roster.
Anyway, I caught up with Bumphis this week, who has been the subject of a fair bit of praise in practice by scouts and media folk in attendance. We talked Shrine Game, MSU, NFL, changing offenses and plenty more.
Q: I know a lot of NFL scouts are there for the Shrine Game. What’s it like talking to and being around them?
A: It’s definitely different from practice at school, because they don’t talk to you, they just watch you practice and you don’t really know what they’re thinking. We’re out here at practice and they’re watching, but now you get back to the hotel and you sit down talking. I’ve talked to some for probably 30 minutes. They tell you what they’re thinking and their concerns. With me they want to see my understanding of football, is what I’m getting from them. Because I’ll sit down with them and they’ll draw up plays and concepts, and basically, they’ll see how much I understand the game.
Q: What are they saying you do well and what do they say you need to work on?
A: Everyone likes my separation, like coming in and out of my breaks, how quick I am. I think what everybody wants to see is what I run in the 40. So I’m excited about that.
Q: Are you optimistic about your 40 time?
A: I have no idea right now. I’m just training and getting as slim as I can so I make sure I have a good time.
I can get down the field, I can do what I need to do.
A: I’ve interviewed with every team here. Some longer than others, but I’m guessing that’s just how they do interviews.
Q: One of the reports I read from practice said you “gave us more than we expected.” It’s kind of a backhanded compliment. Does that motivate you?
A: It’s definitely motivation. You’re in these games to show what you can do, and then they don’t expect much from you, it’s always motivation to be better than they expect. Whatever areas they’re looking at me and saying I need improvement, that’s just what I’m taking and working on. As far as not expecting much, I’m gonna show everything I have, so they’ll see what I can do.
Q: The offense changing was certainly a big part of it, but was there anything in particular that led to the big jump from your junior year to senior year?
A: My biggest thing was just quit trying to prove people wrong and prove myself right. There was so much negativity about how I did my junior year and everything. Hearing that and reading that stuff during the season does not help, because then you’re trying to go out and do things that you don’t normally do, play outside of who you are. Once I got back to doing what I do, just playing ball and not worrying about what people and not worrying about proving them wrong but proving myself right, I was a lot better.
Q: What would you say you bring to an NFL team?
A: What most people want me to do is return punts and play in the slot, what I’ve been doing for four years, so I think that I can bring mismatches to the slot position and just get open and make plays. It’s gonna be different at every level, but it’s still football. I know they competition’s gonna be better, but I feel like playing in the SEC, I’m a step ahead of people.
Q: The NFL seems to be incorporating more spread offense. Is that something that helps you?
A: It definitely helps. You can definitely see the difference in the two offenses, because this week, we’re running more of a pro offense. I’ve been playing a lot of outside receiver. That’s a lot different from what we ran in college. In college, I didn’t have to play outside. I was always in the slot. I think that’s where I’m better and where I’m gonna have the most success.
A: It’s always been my favorite player, Percy Harvin. That’s who I try to mold myself after. He played in the same offense I played in in college. They basically use me the same way.
Q: Let’s talk about the future of MSU. Who are gonna be the star receivers for State next year?
A: I think Jameon Lewis and Robert Johnson. I mean, everybody knows what Jameon can do. Once he gets the ball, he’s probably one of the most electric dudes I’ve ever seen in my life with the ball in his hands. You’re not gonna tackle him. One player is not gonna tackle him.
Rojo, a lot of people don’t actually know how good he is. He’s big and strong. He’s probably one of the fastest guys on the team. His main thing is confidence. Once he gets his confidence up, nobody, I mean nobody, will be able to cover him. Ask Banks and Slay. He’ll give them all trouble in practice. It’s just him being consistent.
Q: Lewis wasn’t able to get on the field as much being stuck behind you on the depth chart. Is he ready to step into that role with you gone?
A: Oh yeah. I talked to Jameon every day last year. I still talk to him almost every day now. He’s ready. He sat behind me and had the whole year to learn the offense, doing everything he needed to do to make sure he’s ready. Coach Balis will have him right this summer. That whole offense, you’ve got Tyler, LaDarius, Malcolm, I think they’ll pick right back up.
Q: On the other side of the ball, Banks, Slay and Broomfield are all moving on. Having gone against the backups in scout team, you’d know as well as anyone who’s poised to step in for those guys.
A: The one person I think is gonna step up and, I wouldn’t say surprise some people, but Jamerson Love. He’s definitely the fastest person on the team. He’ll be good. Cover corner, great speed.
On the other side, Cedric Jiles, Taveze Calhoun, either one of them can play. Jiles is so young but so good. The way he looks in practice, you look at him as a three-year player. He’s that good. So aggressive and eveyr day we’re at practice he comes to compete. He never has a down day. Every day he’s out there he wants to get better.
Q: What’s your training plan leading up to the draft?
A: I’m doing it down in Naples, Fl. I’m staying down here and I’m training. My agent has got me training down here doing a speed thing, so I’m doing my internship here and taking my online classes.
Q: So speed is the main thing you’re working on?
A: Oh yeah. Before I got here I was doing speed training in Orlando and I’ll continue that down in Naples, working on my 40 and all the cone drills. That’s basically what I’m working on. I think my strength is fine.
Q: You mention your strength and good routes, what are some of the things you’re taking from your time at MSU that you can apply to the NFL?
A: Everything that program is about will help you not only in football but in life. Just working with Coach Mullen and that offense and the routes we run. I think our offense helps us as wide receivers because we have to learn coverages and not only as a pre-snap read, but as the play is going on. We have to keep our eyes up to read coverages through the whole route and I think that helps us.
Q: You seem to be on the upswing in your career, having such a good season your season year. Did it require some patience as a receiver with a run-based offense your first three years before getting more pass-heavy in the final season?
A: The first few years I was there, it seemed like I was just out there floating. I mean, there’s no way I should’ve been playing my freshman year. But with the lack of receivers, we were forced to play. I should still have another year at Mississippi State, because that first year I couldn’t read a defense. I knew what I was supposed to do, I had no idea why I was doing it. I just knew what I was supposed to do.
The field seemed so much bigger this year. It felt like it was 70 yards wide. It’s just knowing the defenses and knowing the offense, understanding why you’re doing what you’re doing in the game. It makes it so much easier.