Cougfan at 15: Big surprise, big results

AS A PERSONAL TRAINER and gym owner, Michael Bumpus shows people how it's done. That includes Huskies. And it's not like he hasn't done it before. After all, during his four seasons at Washington State the Cougars won three Apple Cups.

"Since I work on the Westside, I (train) a lot of Huskies," the one-time record-breaker told in a recent interview from his home in Monroe. "They're like, ‘this and that', and I'm like, ‘hey, I was 3-1 against you guys'."

How the former Culver City, Calif., star became a Cougar qualifies him as the biggest Signing Day surprise for WSU and its fans since started covering the recruiting wars 15 years ago.

Sixth in a series of feature stories (15 for 15) CF.C is running in the 15 days leading to its 15th anniversary on August 15.

"We're not talking about a pleasant surprise," CF.C managing editor Barry Bolton remembers of LOI Day 2004 when Bumpus faxed his letter to Bill Doba. "We're talking about a major shocker by a national prospect -- arguably the biggest Signing Day surprise in WSU history."

Bumpus was a first-team "Best in the West" pick at Culver City High and one of the top 15 receiving prospects in the nation who happened to have been verbally committed to Pete Carroll and USC for nearly two months prior to Signing Day.

"There wasn't an inkling of any kind that he was going anywhere other than USC," Bolton recalls.

But when the Trojans landed a verbal from Dwayne Jarrett, a high school All-American, shortly before letters of intent were to be signed, Carroll asked Bumpus to grayshirt.


Suddenly the luster of playing close to home was gone.

And Washington State was in perfect position to capitalize. Cougar assistant coach Kelly Skipper had remained in low-key contact with Bumpus after he had verballed to USC.

It also helped that Bumpus had taken an official visit to WSU on a weekend in October -- when temperatures hit 80 and the Cougars chalked up their fifth victory of the year, 30-7, over Arizona. He was struck by the family feel of Pullman.

"Once we had him, we crossed our fingers that word wouldn't get out. If it got on the internet, Washington, Oregon and everyone else would have been all over him," Robin Pflugrad, WSU's then-recruiting coordinator, told CF.C a month after the fact.

For Bumpus, the subsequent four years on the Palouse were magical.

"When you're going off to college, everyone says it will be the best time of your life," Bumpus says. "I'm like ‘OK, whatever' … Going back and looking at it, it was.

"My wife Jennifer and I talk about it all the time. There are a lot of good memories there."

Not just for him, but Cougar fans too.

Bumpus lived up to his billing in a big, big way. By the time his senior year was done in 2007 he had broken Hugh Campbell's 45-year-old school record for career pass receptions, and had surpassed Kitrick Taylor as the most prolific punt returner in WSU history.

The day he broke Campbell's receptions record is an especially fond memory for Bumpus because "my mom was there, and I got to keep the ball."

He concluded his Cougar career with 195 catches (19 more than Campbell) for 2,022 yards (tenth-most in school history). His 70 receptions as a senior was the second-most in the Pac-10 that year and the second-most for a single season in WSU history.

He earned honorable mention or second-team all-conference honors four straight years.


"He was more than just one of my receivers," Alex Brink recently told "We (became) best friends and cultivated that relationship on the field and off.

"I always admired his consistency and dedication to his craft."

He was also tough.

"He wasn't a big kid (5-11, 194), but he would go across the middle for us and get clobbered," remembers Doba.

After graduating, Bumpus joined the Seattle Seahawks in 2008 as an undrafted free agent. He caught five balls that season, including a 10-yard touchdown pass against the St. Louis Rams.

Going into training camp the next summer, he broke his foot.

"I had to have surgery and it pretty much dropped me from fifth to 10th or 11th (on the fall camp depth chart)," he said. "I couldn't get healthy, so they cut me."

From there, he headed to the Canadian Football League, where he played a season and a half for the B.C. Lions – and then looked to switch to soccer with the Tacoma Tide of the Premier Developmental League.

But once he became a father, he decided his playing days were over.

That's when he strapped on a whistle and grabbed a clip board, serving as the offensive coordinator at Redmond High.

"My dream job would be to be the head coach at Washington State," he said.

Bumpus said he plans to introduce his sons, 3-year-old Michael and 1-year-old Kobe, to "the true Cougar experience" this fall.

"It feels a little weird because I'm the old guy now," he said, "but it also feels like home, because there's no place like Pullman."

He said he is especially excited about the Martin Stadium renovation and Football Operations Building.

"In college, it's all about recruiting, and it's hard to recruit to a place like Pullman because of the location," he said. "When you can compete with other Pac-12 schools, facility-wise … we'll snatch a few recruits we weren't supposed to get."

Sounds familiar.



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