Hugh who? Bumpus focused on job, not record

FRESH OFF OF A 10-catch day that moved him within two receptions of third place on Washington State's career receiving list, star Cougar slotback Michael Bumpus was asked Saturday evening if he knew the name of the guy he's pursuing for the all-time record.

It's not Mike Levenseller. Or Steve Broussard.

Bumpus passed up both of them late last season.

It's not Tim Stallworth, who he edged last week. Or C.J. Davis, who was bypassed against San Diego State at Qwest Field.

"You know, I don't really know (who set the record)," the smiling Bumpus confessed. "But I think it was something like 30 years ago."

The personable senior from Culver City, Calif., needs work on his football trivia, but gets an A for honesty.

The WSU record for most career receptions was set 45 years ago by Hugh Campbell, the legendary "Phantom of the Palouse," who grabbed 176 passes from 1960 to 1962.

Bumpus needs 38 catches to break that mark.

Asked if he'd ever heard of Hugh Campbell, Bumpus again earned an A for honesty.

"I don't think so," he said.


For the record, Campbell is one of only six Cougars in school history to be named first-team All-Coast or all-conference in three successive seasons. In fact, he was voted first-, second- or third-team All-American in each of his three varsity campaigns. He went on to have a triple-crown Hall of Fame career in the Canadian Football League as player, head coach and general manager.

Campbell's Cougar record, clearly, isn't something Bumpus is preoccupied with. "If I do what I'm supposed to do, those kinds of things will happen."

Asked what it would mean to be the most prolific receiver ever at school with such a proud passing history, Bumpus said it would be an honor – but cautioned that it wouldn't mean he's the best ever. "The greatest might have just left here last year," he said, referring to good friend Jason Hill.

Hill, now with the San Francisco 49ers, is tied for second on the all-time list, at 148 catches, with Phillip Bobo.

Bumpus, now at 139 career receptions, should eclipse Nian Taylor and Doug Flansburg (140 each) on Saturday against Idaho. That would put him alone in third place behind Hill and Bobo.

The road to this lofty place in Palouse history has been a circuitous one.

Coming out of high school, Bumpus verbally committed to USC, and then switched directions a week before signing day when the Trojans suggested that he grayshirt. In his first season at WSU, 2004, he became a punt return sensation and sits in the top 5 or 10 of virtually every school record in the category. But frustrations in the classroom and with playing the slot rather than out wide brought him to the verge of transferring – a period which Bumpus characterizes succinctly: "I was insane for a little bit."

Today he is a team captain poised to break a record that has stood for nearly half-a-century.

Excellence on the field is not enough, Bumpus insists. He says he's trying to be the kind of off-field influence that Hill and former WSU receivers Marty Martin and Chris Jordan were on him. He sees Cougar freshman Jeshua Anderson – "probably the fastest guy I've ever seen" – as continuing the legacy.

Before heading down the Qwest Field tunnel to the team bus, Bumpus is asked if he remembers the name of the guy he's chasing for the receptions record.

Breaking into the biggest smile this side of Mkristo Bruce, he is matter-of-fact: "I can't remember."

Hugh Campbell, his questioner informs.

As if hauling in another Alex Brink pass with those sure hands of his, Bumpus intones, "Hugh Campbell. Hugh Campbell. Got it – Hugh Campbell."

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