Who, the receiver? Tall kid with the ponytail? You don’t apperceive him?
Kumerow. Whitewater, D-III. Yeah, we’ve been tracking him for a while. 6’5″, 205 pounds. I had his 40s about 4.5. Abbreviate shuttle was 6.90. Probably has bigger numbers in him.
Production? 32 touchdowns, about 2,500 yards, two D-III civic titles in the aftermost two years.
Hold on, it gets better: Dad was a first-round pick. Uncle, too. One aboriginal accessory is an All-American, and the added is a 5-star recruit.
Don’t apperceive how he slipped through the cracks—but if he block through the sixth round, we’re calling him…
…and accumulate that beneath your hat.
In May 1958, Sports Illustrated dispatched columnist Gerald Holland to the Winnetka, Illinois, home of Mr. and Mrs. William Palmer Pyle. The Keokuk, Iowa, citizenry had a adroitness for adopting aristocratic athletes in idyllic burghal Chicagoland.
They were adherent Chicago Bears admirers who rarely absent a game. Their abode was blimp with jerseys and accessories of aloof about every sport, d and outdoorsy afterward imaginable. The walls were draped with bi-weekly clippings, the mantel burdened with trophies.
As profiled by Holland, the Pyles were ideal antic parents: endlessly admiring but never pushy. They let their sons accept their own aisle to success.
Their eldest, alleged William Palmer Pyle, Jr. but alleged Palmer, was a standout appropriate accouterment at Michigan State. His Spartans had aloof accomplished a admirable 1957 season, finishing No. 3 in the AP poll. Their additional son, Mike, would go on to captain Yale’s best 1960 squad.
Cathryn Pyle, a three-sport amateur at Wyoming, told Holland they “would accept been captivated if Mike had absitively on Michigan State. But we’ve fabricated it a aing aphorism not to try to access the boys in the best of a university. Both of them were approached by dozens of schools, but they fabricated up their own minds.”
Mike Pyle angry bottomward abundant scholarships to airing on at Yale; the Pyles ponied up for Ivy Alliance tuition. They commuted to East Lansing for Palmer’s amateur and on break fabricated it out to Connecticut to watch Mike. Holland concluded his allotment with a admonishing to Michigan Accompaniment arch drillmaster Duffy Daugherty: He’d bigger not let the youngest Pyle get away.
Palmer would go on to be drafted by the Baltimore Colts, and Mike by the Pyles’ admired Bears. Admitting Palmer’s pro career would be cut abbreviate by injuries, Mike was the Pro Bowl axis of the Bears abhorrent band throughout the 1960s.
Two years afterwards the Sports Illustrated profile, and aloof months afterwards actuality drafted, Palmer fabricated civic headlines—but not for arena football. He eloped with high-profile Chicago built-in Marie Accardo, described as “a babe of Tony Accardo, accounted abomination syndicate chief” in The Associated Press address on the wedding, via the Schenectady Gazette.
The headline-making alliance didn’t last—but it did aftermath a son: Eric.
In his mother’s burghal Chicago home, Eric grew bigger and faster than any of the acclaimed footballing Pyles. He became a three-sport amateur with absurd admeasurement and starred at quarterback for Oak Park-River Forest Aerial School. After his chief season, he was named All-State in both football and basketball and Football Amateur of the Year by the Chicago Tribune. Per Brad Spencer of the Wednesday Journal of Oak Park and River Forest, OPRF retired his No. 14 in 2012.
The aback of that jersey never apprehend “PYLE.” Eric’s aftermost name was, and is, Kumerow.
Marie Accardo affiliated addition Chicago ballplayer, Ernest Kumerow. He was a bullpen for the University of Illinois and went on to bandy two years in the minors. Afterwards marrying Marie, Ernie aloft Eric and his sister Cheryl as his own.
A approved academy recruit, Eric Kumerow committed to Ohio State. Aback he accustomed in Columbus, he begin himself sandwiched in a quarterback abyss blueprint that included closing Bears signal-caller Mike Tomczak. To get on the field, Kumerow would accept to booty a altered path. During his redshirt season, he switched to defense.
In his aboriginal year on the field, Kumerow started on the bend of a stout Buckeyes aegis that included approaching pros such as assurance William White and Bednarik Award champ Chris Spielman. BuckeyesFansOnly.com lists Kumerow as Ohio State’s fourth-most abounding pass-rusher ever, with 23 sacks in two seasons. In his two seasons as a starter, the Buckeyes went 19-6 and accomplished No. 14 and No. 7 in the AP poll.
Injuries captivated Kumerow out of the Chief Bowl and combine, so Ohio State’s pro day was his alone adventitious to put up analysis numbers for pro scouts. At 6’7″, 264 pounds, he had aberrant size—but per Bob Hill of the Orlando Sun-Sentinel, Kumerow’s 40-yard birr that day was a banal 4.84 seconds. According to Hill, Kumerow was “expected to be drafted amid the additional and fifth rounds.” The Miami Dolphins took him No. 16 overall.
“I about went through the beam aback [the Dolphins] alleged my name,” Kumerow told Hill at the time. Legendary Dolphins arch drillmaster Don Shula, who’d accomplished Palmer Pyle on the Baltimore Colts, seemed to see commodity in Kumerow no one abroad did. But aback Kumerow accustomed in Miami, he struggled appearance it. Nagging injuries slowed his convenance performance, and first-round expectations advised him down.
“I told him that he had to convenance like it was a d in acclimation to affect the coaches,” Shula told Barnes. “A lot of adolescent players don’t apperceive how to convenance at this level. You accept to apperceive your assignments and be able to backpack them out.”
Kumerow’s struggles with injuries and opportunities mirrored those of second-year arresting end John Bosa. Bosa, taken No. 16 all-embracing in the year before, bound affirmed with Kumerow on and off the field. The brothers-in-arms became brothers-in-law aback Bosa affiliated Kumerow’s sister, Cheryl.
Kumerow never begin his abode on the field. He registered bristles sacks, 25 tackles and aught starts in three seasons spent bouncing amid linebacker and arresting end. In 1991, Miami traded him to the Bears. His relief, per Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune, was palpable.
“Being in Chicago agency a lot,” Kumerow told Sullivan at the time. “Coming aback with my wife and family to our ancestors and friends. God forbid, if things don’t assignment out, at atomic we’ll be home and we’re all set and can go on with our lives.”
Things didn’t assignment out. An Achilles abrasion amount him that season, and he didn’t accomplish the 1992 squad. Bosa’s afresh knee injuries cut his career short, too.
His arena canicule over, Bosa busy a South Beach architecture and adapted it into a hot new gym, The Gridiron Club. In 1995, per Eric Conrad of the Orlando Sun-Sentinel, Bosa and Kumerow afresh absitively to anatomy a dream fettle adeptness from the arena up, going 50-50 in a $1.4 actor venture. Kumerow confused his growing ancestors from the Chicago suburbs aback bottomward to Florida.
The new gym was a success, but it didn’t aish the abortion of Kumerow’s aboriginal South Florida career. Miami media outlets spent every April reminding the Kumerows’ neighbors he and Bosa were back-to-back first-round busts.
“I’ve got a 5-year-old son who wasn’t alike built-in aback I was arena bottomward here,” Kumero, apropos to his son Jake, told Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald in 1997. “He doesn’t charge to apprehend abrogating things about his father.”
Competition for The Gridiron Club acrimonious up as fettle chains ashore south Florida. Eventually, Kumerow and Bosa absitively to advertise the gym. Ready for a new start, the Kumerows moved—where else?—back home to burghal Chicago. Aing to ancestors and far from Dolphins fans, Kumerow began a acknowledged sales career in Bartlett, Illinois, accouterment a peaceful accomplishments for a abode beginning with accomplished adolescent athletes.
“It was appealing crazy,” Jake told Bleacher Report. “Always aggressive all about the house, me and my brothers and my sister. Our dad was consistently apprenticeship us, aggregate was appealing abundant sports all year round. Soccer, football, basketball, baseball, everything.”
For all the competition, though, Jake says there was never any animosity. His sister Cortney agreed.
“Some ancestors accept those rivalries, that are absolutely aggressive all the time,” she told Bleacher Report. “We never got into those big, crazy rivalries.” The Kumerow kids all begin their own niches; Jake took to football, while Cortney latched assimilate basketball. “I went to every d they anytime played in, and they did the aforementioned for me. We aloof absolutely accurate anniversary added a lot.”
They were on bounded coaches’ alarm appropriate away, abnormally as they were districted into Bartlett’s aboriginal South Elgin aerial school.
“There was absolutely an acquaintance of the Kumerow ancestors in Bartlett, of [Eric], and the success he had,” South Elgin varsity football drillmaster Pat Pistorio told Bleacher Report.
Was Eric Kumerow another Marv Marinovich, blame his kids to accomplish the pros, training them at all hours of the day and night? Were he and his wife Tammi bedeviled helicopter parents, alive arrest with the coaches to accomplish abiding their kids got best for biking teams, got starting reps, got added attention? No. In fact, Eric took pains to break out of the way.
“I was not the dad that pushed, and absolutely absolutely got involved, and put the burden on the kids,” Eric told Bleacher Report. “What happened to me is altered and special, and it’s very, actual difficult to accomplish that ambition of arena able athletics. I approved my hardest to aloof accept fun with the kids and let whatever happens, happen.”
Jake, Cortney and all the coaches interviewed for this commodity accede that’s absolutely what he did.
“Eric could be cogent us all what to do, because his pedigree,” Pistorio said. “Despite actuality a first-round pick, he and Tammi stay out of the way. They absolutely acquiesce the coaches to do their job and abutment aggregate that we do.”
The Kumerows insisted their accouchement chase through on commitments they fabricated but accustomed them to accomplish those choices themselves.
Jake consistently chose football.
When he aing South Elgin’s apprentice squad, he was years abroad from accepting a first-rounder’s body—but his aptitude was evident.
“You could acquaint it came artlessly to him,” Pistorio said. “There were weeks he didn’t bead a ball.”
Whether it was acclimation to assurance in the air, authoritative one-handed catches or high-pointing over opponents, Jake showed and developed address far above best aerial academy wideouts. Best absorbing of all was his bound drive, as he formed every convenance rep with playoff intensity.
“It was like in wrestling,” Pistorio said, “when you apprehend about accompaniment champions that never get pinned, alike in practice? It’s the aforementioned affair with him communicable the ball. His calmly are aloof unreal.”
His adeptness was acutely arresting alike from the top of the bleachers area Eric, his parents Ernie and Marie and Tammi and her parents would sit during Jake’s games. They accurate and animated him endlessly but gave him and the coaches the amplitude they bare to succeed.
For all his ability, Jake lacked what seemed to be his birthright: aristocratic measurables. In a recruiting apple bedeviled with height, weight and speed, he didn’t accept abundant of the three to accompany in scholarship offers from Big Ten universities.
“We knew he was a D-I talent,” Eric Kumerow said. “He was aloof underdeveloped.” Pistorio, who also has academy and calm apprenticeship experience, agreed—and so did Ron Zook. Late in the process, the then-head drillmaster of the University of Illinois offered Jake a adopted walk-on spot. Jake took it, and Eric and Tammi fabricated abiding their son could airing his alleged aisle to success.
But why Illinois? Was it the claiming of aristocratic competition? The account of advancement his grandfathering Ernie’s legacy?
“Well, it was aing to home,” Jake said, “and orange has consistently been one of my admired colors.” At Illinois, Jake got taller, and his role on the band grew forth with him. Backward in his redshirt apprentice year, he logged three receptions in a 27-7 accident to Minnesota. He didn’t apperceive it then, but they were the alone D-I passes he’d anytime catch. At the end of the season, Zook was fired.
“I was activity a little capricious about my spot,” Jake said of the afterward ambiguous spring. “A brace added bodies had transferred out; it was aloof a lot different.” To get assimilate the field, Jake would accept to booty a altered path. That’s aback the Kumerows accomplished out to D-III University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, area Cortney was a basketball standout.
“I talked to my dad, and the coaches,” Jake said, “and I was like, ‘Go win a brace civic championships with the blow of the years I accept left? Sounds acceptable to me!’ It angry out to be the best best of my life.”
“We accustomed him with accessible arms,” above UW-Whitewater arch drillmaster Lance Leipold told Bleacher Report. Leipold, now arch drillmaster at the University at Buffalo, was animated to assuredly acreage the receiver—by afresh listed at 6’4″, 190 pounds—he’d approved to recruit out of South Elgin.
Zook, now the Green Bay Packers appropriate teams coach, was clumsy to animadversion about Jake due to his cachet as a abstract prospect. However, Zook told Leipold that if he’d been retained, Jake calmly could accept acceptable a scholarship at Illinois.
That aboriginal division at Whitewater was one of transition, brooding and reflection. He formed on his grades, ate spaghetti at Cortney’s place, approved to apprentice the breach and attempted to accomplish friends. He was alive for nine amateur but bent aloof 15 passes. It was an off year for the Warhawks, too. Afterwards acceptable D-III civic championships in four of the above-mentioned bristles years, accidental abhorrent struggles captivated them to a 7-3 almanac and out of the playoffs.
Cortney’s squad, meanwhile, was rolling. Averaging 13.5 points, 7.6 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per d from the centermost spot, the 6’1″ chief led her aggregation to the D-III civic championship game. At the aforementioned time her Warhawks were assault the nation’s best, her adolescent brother Kyle was disturbing it up in track, authoritative the accompaniment finals in the amateur jump.
“While we were in the auberge at the accompaniment clue meet,” Cortney said, “Jake was like, ‘Man, now it’s my about-face to do commodity awesome.’ “
That spring, aggregate changed.
“Jake absolutely took it aloft himself,” Leipold said. “He got in the weight allowance appropriate away. He fabricated as quick of a 180 as I’ve seen.”
Alan Hensell, who aing Whitewater as advanced receivers drillmaster for the 2013 season, raved about his junior-year pupil. “He was a amazing convenance player,” Hensell told Bleacher Report. “One of the best I’ve around. He leads by example, never takes himself out, wants to booty every rep and get every rep perfect.”
Then-defensive coordinator Kevin Bullis, who has aback been answer to arch coach, agreed.
“His aplomb aloof blossomed,” Bullis said. “You could acquaint in his affection and mind, that additional season, his priorities were hardwired into what he capital to do.” It was no abruptness Jake bedeviled amateur that fall, Hensell said, because they’d apparent it all forth in practice.
If Drillmaster Shula is account this article, he’s absolutely smiling.
As Jake’s aplomb blossomed, so did his easygoing, alert personality. He grew his bristles out and sported a beard. He became odd-couple roommates, and fast friends, with categorical quarterback Matt Behrendt.
All of Jake’s coaches insisted he’s a archetypal yes-sir, no-sir blazon on the field: absolutely respectful, conspicuously coachable, a able teammate. As he batten to Bleacher Report, though, his polite, soft-spoken, advised words channelled at the edges.
“Oh, he’s a absolute goofball,” Cortney said, laughing. “He’s big-hearted and fun-loving. He couldn’t affliction beneath if bodies are anticipation him. He’s like, ‘I’m gonna do me, I’m not affliction anybody, I’m aloof actuality to accept a acceptable time, comedy football and win stuff.’ ” Like Jake’s coaches though, Cortney affirmed that aback it’s time to work, that’s what Jake does.
His inferior year, he worked.
A standout on an breach abounding of standouts, the Warhawks wideout acid No. 1 bent 77 passes for 1,331 yards and a whopping 19 touchdowns. With a ambulatory offense, UW-Whitewater went aback to the Stagg Bowl and put addition civic appellation in the bays case.
The afterward season, NFL scouts set up affected in Whitewater to watch Jake, but he backward focused on the assignment at hand. Eric, rather than authoritative buzz calls to and affairs strings with NFL contacts, let Jake allure his own attention.
Leipold told Bleacher Address a story: “Our aboriginal d of the year, we got up absolutely early, by 21-28 credibility in the aboriginal bisected of the aboriginal quarter. It was a Friday night d and scouts were there, but we weren’t activity to comedy Jake aloof for the account of arena him. Afore our additional d I fabricated acknowledgment of that to Eric and his absolute adduce to me was, ‘Coach, we’ve got affluence of time to accord with that. We aloof charge to accomplish abiding the aggregation and Jake are arena their best.’
“It was never about what Jake was activity to do, if Jake’s activity to get a adventitious in the league, how abounding catches Jake was activity to have. He was a aing accepter that aggregation success would get his son his opportunity.”
Which brings us to now.
“Now actuality [Jake] is with an opportunity,” Eric Kumerow said, “and he did that all on his own. I didn’t advance him there.” Watching Jake’s blemish season, he accomplished his son’s dream of arena in the NFL could appear accurate too. “He started authoritative these bazaar catches all the time. The arch catches that he makes are like, ‘How did that alike happen?’ you know? He has a adroitness for authoritative the t aback he needs to accomplish the catch.”
In this moment, Kumerow doesn’t complete like a date ancestor or alike a justifiably appreciative papa. He sounds like a constant football man absolutely awash on a amazing talent. “I played with Cris Carter, who in my opinion, was the best receiver I’ve anytime seen. Aback Jake came on, his calmly are aloof as good.”
Jake connected to column alike bigger numbers in his chief year, abacus 66 catches, 1,113 yards and 14 touchdowns to his career totals admitting missing four amateur with an abate injury. The Warhawks went back-to-back in the 2014 Stagg Bowl, acceptable an absurd sixth civic appellation in eight years.
Jake was arrive to the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, area he got an befalling to assignment with allegorical NFL coaches and players. Per CBS Sports’ Dane Brugler, afterwards he was a abruptness exclusion from the NFL combine, the University of Wisconsin (Madison)’s pro day would be his alone adventitious to put up numbers for pro scouts.
While training at Bommarito Achievement Systems in Miami, Jake backward with his aunt, Cheryl Kumerow-Bosa, and his accessory Nick—that would be Rivals’ 5-star arresting end recruit Nick Bosa, whose earlier brother Joey is an All-American at Ohio State. At 6’6″, 275 pounds, per Ohio State’s official site, Joey is about the aforementioned admeasurement as his uncle Eric and adeptness alike be added athletic. Nick is already 6’4″, 255 pounds, per Rivals, and growing.
“[Jake] was so focused while he was bottomward here,” Kumerow-Bosa told Bleacher Report. “It was all about training.” His circadian workouts started at 7 a.m. and went backward into the afternoon. “He’d appear home, put a fishing pole in the water, eat, go in the hot tub, beddy-bye and go do it all over again.”
Kumerow-Bosa laughed as she recalled how abundant ammunition Jake austere while architecture up his anatomy alongside some of the draft’s hottest prospects.
“I’m acclimated to affable for my giant, barbarian sons,” she said, “and I’m a appealing acceptable cook. But it was just—food. Food, for the accomplished two months he was bottomward here. It was ‘when are we eating,’ ‘what are we eating,’ ‘when’s the aing meal’ appropriate afterwards we aloof got done eating!”
Nutrition and training, Leipold said, are two areas area Jake can booty a massive bound forward.
“In Division III, we don’t accept training tables,” he said. “Our kids augment themselves.” With NFL-caliber aliment and facilities, Jake could alleviate alike added of his potential. With a better-developed body, he could be bigger, faster, stronger and added explosive—everything NFL teams appetite in a receiver appropriate now.
On March 15, 2015, Jake aing a accumulation of UW-Madison Badgers, and a few small-schoolers (including Behrendt), in assuming for scouts at Wisconsin’s McClain Centermost convenance facility. He put up abundant numbers, per NFL.com, alive 4.52- and 4.56-second 40-yard dashes and acid an outstanding 6.90 in the three-cone drill.
Other assemblage had Kumerow’s sprints timed abundant faster. ESPN.com’s Zach Heilprin alleged his time at 4.36. Mickey Frigge of NFLDraftWarRoom.com had him at 4.46 and 4.51, and the Wisconsin Accompaniment Journal’s Tom Oates timed him at 4.50.
“The adamantine assignment paid off,” Jake said. He was admiring with his times and appreciative to agenda he didn’t bead a canyon in any of the drills.
He’s a bit thinner than first-round hits like Mike Evans and Kelvin Benjamin but a little quicker afoot, and the band could acquaint a absolutely aristocratic account about Jake’s adeptness afterwards a year in the weight room. As he stands, his numbers are eerily aing to those of Dorial Green-Beckham, whom Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller rated No. 15 overall.
For now, it’s over. Save for a few visits and workouts, which included an April 7 conditioning with the Bears, Jake has done aggregate he can. He showed the apple he can comedy like a top D-I talent, and he activated like one too. Whether his name is alleged on abstract day or not, he’ll be in some team’s training affected this summer.
With his family’s support, Jake took the best aisle he could to acceptable the best amateur he could be and let the NFL appear to him.
Maybe it’s fate: For the aboriginal time in added than 50 years, the abstract is actuality captivated in Chicago.
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