31 Flavors of Football: The Enigmatic Chad Bumphis

To help you and me get through the drudgery of August, I will present in this space a daily scoop of MSU football-ness, as inspired by a certain ice cream chain. August has 31 days, so I’ll let you work it out from there. Here is today’s flavor.

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Chad Bumphis is an enigma of sorts. He has prodigious talent, but it hasn’t always manifested itself on the field. Why? Good question, and not an easy one to answer. You could say it’s because he didn’t get to take a redshirt his freshman year, which hindered the natural evolution of his development, something Dan Mullen emphasizes with his players.

Perhaps something harder to pinpoint, something we can’t see, is what’s been holding Bumphis back. He seemed poised to become an elite SEC receiver after his sophomore year, when he made 44 catches for 634 yards and five touchdowns. He ranked ninth in the SEC in receptions per game and 11th in yards per game that season. He led MSU in receiving for the second consecutive year.

Then Bumphis took a step back last year, catching just 25 passes for 339 yards and three TDs – all career lows. Blame the passing ability of Chris Relf if you want, and perhaps Tyler Russell will be able to bring Bumphis’ numbers back up.

Bumphis was a guy who came from Tupelo High School with weighty expectations. I had first heard about him when he was an eighth-grade quarterback, and he became one of the area’s most feared playmakers, both at receiver and on returns. Some folks dared compare him to Percy Harvin. Good as Bumphis was in high school, that was an unfair comparison.

Bump – as he’s often called – is an enigma on another level. He’s a very good interview subject, but I’m not sure how much he enjoys dealing with the media. I remember interviewing him one-on-one his senior year at Tupelo, and he spent the entire time fiddling with his iPhone. Zero eye contact. But the interview went great. He’s still much like that, when we actually get to speak with him. He’s declined interview requests at least twice this preseason.

Off the field, Bumphis has been a model citizen, the only hiccup being that incident at a Tupelo bar on New Year’s, and he was not the instigator. He was struck in the neck by a champagne bottle and then, understandably, freaked out. He was arrested after officers could not calm him down, and Bumphis later pleaded guilty to a charge of failure to comply. He’s expected to have his record expunged.

Word from coaches and teammates is Bumphis is determined to make his senior year a big one. If he does, it could help lift the veil of mystery that’s hung over his career.