Wish Upon a Rising Star

Last year at this time Euclid Cummings was preparing to play high school football for the first time in his young life, and now he's readying himself for life as a rising star and highly regarded defensive end prospect.

The 6-foot-3, 230-pound athlete had played other sports at Centennial High School in Roswell, Ga., but it wasn't until his junior year that he decided to give football a shot and the rest, as they say, is history.

"Last year was actually my first playing football," the soft spoken prospect said. "I played baseball and basketball. I got started because the coaching staff that's not here now told me I should play defensive end. Then my head coach now talked me into coming out.

Cummings didn't exactly transform himself into a dominating force from the first moment he stepped on the field but he displayed competitive fire and the ability to pursue. He recalls that experience with an air of astonishment.

"Actually the coaches like pushed me in there," he said. "It was real awkward to me because I didn't feel I really knew what I was doing. I was just running and making plays basically. I contained pretty well, but it took the fourth or fifth game for me to actually get down the technique and have a sense of what I was doing.

Although he had a taunt athletic frame, Euclid Cummings weighed only 205 pounds at the time and was bench pressing 200 pounds, which coupled with his inexperience hardly made him a candidate for a Division I college scholarship. The Knights finished the season with a 6-4 mark and just missed the playoffs in a defeat to rival Roswell High School. That further limited his exposure at a time when he was beginning to feel comfortable on the field.

With an early off season at hand, Cummings walked away from the locker room and set up shop in the weight room. As a result he grew into an attractive prospects.

"At the end of my junior year I was probably around 205," he explained. "I played football and after the season I went up to 220. This summer I was up to 235. I was in a weight training program in our school before but nothing serious like when I started football. I don't feel there's that much of a gap between me and the other players as far as lifting unless it's technique. If I'm trying to power clean it's more technical. Everything else I'm right up there with everybody else. I'm benching like 260 and when I started I was lifting about 200. The bench press is probably my best lift."

Making 30 percent gains in size and strength upped his stock but he didn't have a scholarship offer of any kind until is arresting performance at the Nike Combine.

"At the Nike Combine they laser timed me at 4.53," he said. "That's one of my faster times. My average is around 4.61, 4.60. The slowest I've ever been timed is a 4.66 and that's when I first went out for football. I've got that down with training and stuff."

That's right folks not only did he get bigger and stronger, he also managed to get faster, too.

"Before the Nike Combine I didn't have any offers," he confirmed to Inside Tennessee. "I was kind of under the radar through the spring I guess. When people first started calling me and the coaches started coming to my school I actually liked the attention. I'm just grateful for what I have. I was just happy they noticed me."

How could a college coach fail to notice a 6-3, 230, defensive end with 4.53 speed and a 31-inch vertical? It's a safe bet he won't be overlooked when Centennial plays this season. And they shouldn't go away disappointed.

"I feel good compared to last year," he said. i just know the game better from last year. and I know what to expect from other offenses and can read a little better. I'm more comfortable on the field. I played defensive end primarily but at times they had me going in as a linebacker that just blitzed. I will play a little bit of tight end this year. I've got pretty good hands and I can run."

It's not surprising Cummings patrolled center field for the Knights baseball team, but he gave up those duties to concentrate on football this spring. He plans to play his last season of high school basketball however.

"I still want to continue playing basketball they need me and it keeps me in shape," he stated. "On my team I was a center or power forward. I'm more of a rebounder. Oh yes sir I can set a mean pick."

Cummings is still undecided on his future major but he knows what he's looking for in a college.

"I have no idea what I'm going to study," said Cummings who turned 18 last May. "I'm trying to figure that out myself.

"As far as what I'm looking for is academics, school traditions, a good alumni base because I'll be looking for a job you know, and the ability of a school to push someone to the next level. I figure if I can go to college I don't see why I couldn't go to the NFL."

One school that fits his criteria to a T is UT, a fact Cummings discovered at football camp this summer.

"I went up there for the camp," he said. "I got a chance to meet Coach Fulmer and he seems pretty cool and laid back. And when I went up there I felt a family vibe at Tennessee and there's more of a tradition like I was talking about I want. The athletic facilities are nice and the way they're building and adding on I thought that was pretty cool. It was all very positive.

John Chavis would like to add this rising star to UT's future defensive constellation.

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