Seeing NFL players from NCAA Division III schools on NFL rosters -- and succeed -- is not an uncommon story.
Mount Union's Pierre Garson has made a name for himself, catching 413 passes while playing for the Indianapolis Colts and Washington Redskins. Middlebury's Steven Hauschka is now a Super Bowl champion and has a career 85.4 percent field goal success rate.
Several Wisconsin-based players have made NFL rosters after playing in the DIII ranks. Beloit's Derek Carrier is entering his third season in the NFL with the San Francisco 49ers, and Wisconsin-Whitewater's Matt Blanchard recently signed with the Green Bay Packers.
Enter wide receiver Jake Kumerow. The former Illinois walk-on won back-to-back DIII national champions after the Warhawks dispatched Mount Union (Ohio) 43-34 this past December. He was invited to the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl in January, and has trained at Bommarito Performance Systems in South Florida preparing for the chance to play at the next level.
In fact, along with Wisconsin defensive linemen Warren Herring, Kumerow may have the best chance for a Wisconsin-based athlete to be drafted Saturday afternoon. Regardless of being selected or being picked up as an undrafted free agent (UDFA), Kumerow -- who caught 143 passes and 33 touchdowns the past two seasons for UW-Whitewater -- has a significant shot to be on an NFL team for training camp and a shot on a 53-man roster.
Tale of the tape (per information from his agent)
2013: D3football.com honorable mention All-American, first team All-Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference
2014: D3football.com first team All-American, D3football.com Offensive Player of the Year, first team All-Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference
Pro day results (from NFL.com and per agent info)
|40-yard dash||Bench Press||Vertical Jump||Broad Jump||20-yard shuttle||60-yard shuttle||3-cone drill|
|4.50 sec||15 reps||31"||9.5''||
4.19" (agent)/4.26 (NFL.com)
|not disclosed||6.83 sec (agent)/6.90 (NFL.com)|
Credit: Jake Kocorowski
Kumerow has an NFL-body. At 6'5, Kumerow has a height advantage over defensive backs. Running a 4.5 second 40-yard dash at Wisconsin's pro day had to have helped his stock in showcasing he can get down the field. His three-cone drill time -- 6.83 seconds -- would have placed him sixth amongst wide receivers at the NFL Scouting Combine.
Watching some highlights from Kumerow, along with seeing him in person at Wisconsin's pro day, he catches the ball well, and though only seeing him workout in person once, appears to have soft hands to haul in passes.
He also has football in his blood. His father, Eric, was a first-round draft pick of the Miami Dolphins in 1988. His extended family also has seen success at the professional ranks, as his uncle, John Bosa, played with his father in Miami. You may also know his cousin, Joey Bosa, the fearless Ohio State defensive linemen that's wrecked havoc in the Big Ten Conference.
NFL.com's draft profile of Kumerow states he needs to stay lower in his routes, something he said coaches and personnel told him during his week at the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl.
Kumerow will also have to adjust to a new level of competition -- jumping up from facing Division III secondaries to taking on the best of the best in the NFL.
Former @WarhawkFootball WR Jake Kumerow in 2nd 40-yd dash at #Badgers pro day pic.twitter.com/bV5RYMJa9H— Bucky's 5th Quarter (@B5Q) March 11, 2015