We spoke with Jake Kocorowski of Bucky's 5th Quarter, who covers Wisconsin athletics mostly relating to University of Wisconsin, but also Wisconsin-Whitewater, too, where Bengals undrafted free agent wide receiver, Jake Kumerow attended college. Kumerow has been one of the most impressive undrafted players on the field during training camp, so we thought it was time to learn more about his outstanding collegiate career. You can also check out a story based on our exclusive interview with Kumerow here.
Cincy Jungle: What stood out to you during Jake Kumerow's college career at Wisconsin-Whitewater?
JK: Kumerow's production the last two years of his career as a Warhawk was quite impressive. He caught 143 passes and 33 touchdown receptions during the past two seasons, which helped lead Wisconsin-Whitewater to a 30-0 record and two NCAA Division III championships. Those 33 touchdowns contributed to his being the program’s all-time leader in receiving touchdowns with 36. It's amazing just to see the production in just those two seasons and where he stands in Warhawks' lore now -- he ranks second in career receiving yards with 2,648 and third in school history with 158 receptions.
Jake Kumerow grateful for opportunity to earn a roster spot with the Bengals
We spoke with Bengals WR Jake Kumerow who is one of the team's undrafted players looking to earn a roster spot with the team this season. Kumerow has shown flashes in training camp and is ready to prove why a D-III prospect can make it in the NFL.
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Cincy Jungle: Was he the star of the team?
JK: He was one of the main offensive players to say the least in that dynamic Warhawks' offense. Senior quarterback Matt Behrendt, who received a tryout with the Minnesota Vikings back in May [and is now on the Packers' roster], completed more than 67 percent of his passes for 3,670 and 42 touchdowns last season. Wide receiver Justin Howard caught 84 passes last season with 12 touchdowns, and a one-two punch of running backs Dennis Moore and Jordan Ratliffe combined for over 2,000 rushing yards.
Kumerow, though, despite missing four games last season, really showed he was the main target. He caught 69 passes last season and 14 touchdowns in 11 games, but he led the team in receiving yards with nearly 17 yards per catch and scored a touchdown in each of his last 10 games at Whitewater.
Cincy Jungle: Did he have any weaknesses you observed or injuries during his time in college?
JK: Though we at B5Q didn't cover any Wisconsin-Whitewater games, NFL.com's draft profile of Kumerow stated he needs to stay lower in his routes, something he said coaches and personnel told him during his week at the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl.
It's not necessarily a weakness, but there's sure to be some adjustment period to playing against the best of the best during training camps rather than DIII talent, though by judging from some of social media, Kumerow has seemed to adjust nicely and surprised some people down in Cincinnati so far. Don't forget, he was a former walk-on at Illinois before he transferred after former Illini head coach (and current Green Bay Packers special teams coach) Ron Zook was ousted, so he has some experience going up against D-1 talent.
In regards to injuries, Kumerow missed four games last season with an ankle injury.
Cincy Jungle: What were his strengths at WR?
JK: He's a big body at 6'4 and ran between a 4.5 and 4.56 40-yard dash during his Pro Day. That shows he's a big target who can get down the field if needed. He showed some agility in his three-cone drill time -- 6.83 seconds. That would have placed him sixth among wide receivers if he would have been invited to the NFL Scouting Combine. With his stats in college, it showed he overwhelmed DIII defensive backs during his time at Wisconsin-Whitewater.
From what I saw at his pro day, he displayed some nice soft hands when catching the ball during position drills. Though that was really the only live experience I saw of him, first impressions are always welcomed. He did well for himself back on that day in March.
Cincy Jungle: Did he contribute on special teams?
JK: He didn't return punts or kickoffs during the 2014 season, but for any player fighting for a spot on an NFL roster that's an undrafted free agent, I think that's a given that he'll need to contribute.
Cincy Jungle: Was he known for anything specifically?
JK: One thing he's known for, aside from the long hair and dominance on the field, is his football lineage. His father, Eric, was a first-round draft pick of the Miami Dolphins back in 1988.
His uncle, John Bosa, also was drafted by the Dolphins during the 1980s. That name may sound familiar to most in the state of Ohio, as his son, Joey is the All-American defensive linemen for Ohio State. His younger son, Nick, committed to the Buckeyes. Football runs in his blood, to say the least.
Cincy Jungle: Did fans expect him to be drafted?
JK: I think many hoped he would be, and many thought there was a chance he'd be taken as a late round flyer by a team. In my opinion, he had a better shot to be drafted than most of the Badgers entering the 2015 NFL Draft outside of running back Melvin Gordon (of course), right tackle Rob Havenstein and defensive linemen Warren Herring (Herring's with the Atlanta Falcons).
Kumerow's name was thrown around even before the 2014 season; he was named by NFL.com as one of the "14 in '14" small school prospects to watch, and also named to the Reese's Senior Bowl 2015 Watch list.
After his 2014 season, he was selected to compete at the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl back in January, the lone Division III player in that Bowl. To say the least, there was a lot of hype for just a DIII player.
Cincy Jungle: Do you see him as someone who could breakout in the NFL?
JK: I think he could have a solid NFL career. He has the big NFL receiving body and speed for a player that size. If he continues to refine his routes as scouts have noted, he could present a quarterback like Andy Dalton or back-up AJ McCarron some options.
Whether he'd have a breakout career like Mount Union's Pierre Garcon, I don't believe so, but he could contribute more in the league than former Warhawk Derek Stanley, who played for the St. Louis Rams for three seasons back in the mid to late 2000s.