A Family Affair

Brian Sump has made headlines here after surprising us with his all out effort and penchant for making the tough catches. <br><br> Brian's dad, Kent, gave us the rest of the story that so many of us have been clamoring for. Who is this unknown man from the Colorado School of Mines?

"As far as his athletic history it started when he was five and a half watching a kung fu movie. He came to me and he said, ‘Dad, I want to take Tae Kwon Doe lessons.'

"So we put him in Tae Kwon Doe and he had to test because they wouldn't put in any kids under six. So he started Tae Kwon Doe when he was five and a half. He worked and he did all of his forms and his practicing. He practiced twice a week.

"His very first tournament he got beat. He was pretty excited and he started throwing a few more punches than kicks and he lost his first fight. After that he finished fourth in the National Championships in Denver and after that never placed lower than third place.

"He has always set goals, and he has always told me, ‘Well I want to do this or I want to be that," and he told me, ‘I want to be a black belt.' Two months after his eighth birthday, he achieved his junior back belt. One of the youngest to ever achieve that. When he was seven he won the Colorado Junior Olympics 1st place. Then I took him up to Wyoming, and he won the Wyoming State Championship, I believe blue belt, and then the next year he had just turned eight and he entered the Wyoming State Championship black belt division in the eight and nine year old division. Won the black belt State Championship.

"Then he got into soccer for a year but didn't really get into that and then he got into baseball. His real love is baseball. A great baseball player, was on the Rockies RBI team two years, the junior team and the senior team, and they flew him out of state for their tournaments. Played every position in the little league field.

"I remember sitting in the seats with this one particular dad and Brian was playing catcher and he was jumping up and grabbing the ball so close to the guy batting that I told him, ‘Brian you have to wait a minute or that guy is going to knock you in the head with the bat.' But he was so anxious to get up and get that ball off to second base. So that one dad who is sitting next to me says, ‘In this league they just don't throw out guys at second. Every kid steals second base.' Brian threw two kids out in the first two innings from home plate. And the guys dad, he had a kid on the other team, says, ‘I have never seen this at this level. That kid has got an arm.'"

What made him not pursue that?

"Really he was hoping to. He made the All Conference team, made the All State All Star team in baseball. At the time was he was in junior high, for six years, he went to the Denver School of the Arts and majored in music. So he was never really at a school that had a sports program. He always had to travel to another school so he went to Thomas Jefferson. He played on the Thomas Jefferson baseball team and was really looking in that direction. But his senior year he decided to go out for football and growing up he was kind of a lean kid. He really wasn't very heavy and pretty lean build. So he never went out until his senior year and he ended up starting for Thomas Jefferson and also was their starting punter.

"His first game and all of a sudden he is punting. I said Brian, ‘Where in the hell did you learn how to punt? And he says, ‘Well, I don't know I just started to punt.'

"He was basically just concentrating on baseball and then when the football kind of got going after his senior year was recruited by School of Mines and was the only home visit that Harvard did that year in Colorado and then I think he got a letter from Montana State and really that was the only interest.

"So he decided to go to the School of Mines and he got a partial scholarship the first year. His sophomore year he really started excelling and then it just started snowballing from there. He just really worked hard in the offseason and regular season."

Brian Sump enjoyed an outstanding career as an Oredigger as he played in 39 collegiate games and set school-records for receptions (146), receiving yards (2,464) and receiving touchdowns (24).

Do you have a family history of football players?

"No not really. I've got two brothers and the three of us all played high school football. None of us played after high school. Hard working farm kids and nobody has ever really pursued football after high school.

"He totally excelled in band. He was All State Band, All State Orchestra and he made the commitment there saying, ‘Dad I want to be first chair.'

"By the end of the year he was first chair. Played in one of the top twenty jazz bands in the country.

"When he put his mind to anything, he just really practiced hard and he has basically accomplished anything he has ever wanted to do."

How did he come about deciding on San Diego?

"His agent was contacted and they flew him down to St. Louis just before the draft and they wanted to do a physical and an interview. After they setup that San Diego had called and they wanted to do the same. San Diego flew him out for a physical and an interview and was really kind of thinking that the Rams might take him because they had two or three extra round draft choices."

The Rams had two choices in the seventh round. They used those choices to select Scott Shanle, a linebacker out of Nebraska, and Richard Angulo, a tight end out of Western New Mexico. The Rams also used two earlier selections on wide receivers so Brian had to be happy he was not picked and had a choice of where he would go.

"San Diego had been here talking to Coach Stitt and had shown a lot of interest, especially in his return ability. After the sixth round San Diego started calling him. So they were on the phone with an offer right after their sixth round pick. It was just a great fit as they didn't draft any wide receivers; they didn't have a lot of veterans at that position. Great place to live and just felt it was the right opportunity where it wasn't totally buried with talent above him where he wouldn't even get an opportunity."

"We'll give Brian the chance to compete for a spot as a receiver and we'll also see what he can do in the return game," said Charger Head Coach Marty Schottenheimer. "We've had good success in finding quality rookie free agents as six rookie free agents made our squad last year. Brian clearly has some outstanding skills and now he will get the opportunity to prove that he can play on this level." Were you influential in that decision?

"No, not in that. I was kind of on his agent. He had a number of agents fly him out and I was a little partial. I have been a long time Vikings fan since I was a little kid. His agent is Tim Irwin a fourteen year veteran for the Vikings. He was an ex-player and he is a lawyer in Tennessee. He just had a lot more to offer. I kind of tried to influence him on his agent, not really on who to go to. That was kind of a done deal when I found out.

"He is more than happy to be out there. He is really excited."

Tomorrow we continue our talk with Kent Sump, the father of Brian Sump, an undrafted free agent out of Colorado School of Mines.

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Denis Savage can be reached at safage@cox.net

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