One Family to Another

In the final piece of our interview with Kent Sump, father of undrafted free agent Brian Sump, we focus on support and his collegiate career. Brian is looking to become a member of the San Diego Chargers family in any role when the season opens. <br><br> "The support in your family is phenomenal," I say. "Are you spread across the globe? Are you adopting?"

"All of my family, except a couple of uncles, lives in Northwest Iowa. His grandma and grandpa Sump have seen every single game he has played in five seasons except, I think, three.

"They are pretty big football fans.

"After his sophomore year, then his junior year, he led the nation in average and touchdowns and set that record. His senior year, they would hardly kick to him at all."

Brian Sump registered his breakout season as a junior when he caught 59 passes for 1,175 yards and 12 touchdowns. He also returned 38 kicks for 1,082 yards and a Division II record four touchdowns en route to earning First Team All-RMAC, All-Region and All-America honors. As a senior, he tallied 46 catches for 849 yards and seven scores.

"So that is the reason his production went down. He was back there the whole time; they just wouldn't kick to him.

"One thing is he is getting a lot of positive print and there is a lot of teams out there watching this and I am sure there are a lot of teams that are interested in him.

"Indianapolis was looking for a return guy. Kansas City showed a lot of interest…St. Louis and Arizona. You just never know. I told him your new roommate just got cut after two years and is on your team after two years."

Brian was originally rooming with Josh Lyman who was cut by the Chargers on June 2nd. Onome Ojo, a veteran of practice squads replaced Lyman on the team and as Brian's roommate.

Do you have any stories we can embarrass Brian with?

"No not really. He has never been in any trouble. I have been fortunate. He has never been in trouble. He has never caused any problems. He has always done fantastic in school."

You did have it lucky. Everyone knew the Savage boys in my town.

"I wasn't criminal, but I was a little mischievous growing up. I was pretty well known around town. Of course that was 100 people. Everybody knew the Sump boys and especially me probably.

"He started working with a special speed trainer in town about two years ago. That guy has just been an incredible guy. Kind of just took him under his wing and said I am not going to even charge you. He says, ‘My goal, for my satisfaction, is to get you in the NFL.' He didn't even charge the kid. He worked out very hard with him. Even to the point last summer, usually we leave on Thursday night to do pre-fish tournaments and, he wouldn't even want to leave with me and I would drive out by myself and he would come out Friday because he didn't want to miss that one day of practice.

"He was so dedicated and he said, ‘I am going to miss two workouts already and I can't miss that one on Thursday. So I am going to work out Thursday and Friday.' And he would come out Friday after his workout Friday and meet me Friday night.

"The School of Mines football program, until the last few years, has been pretty bad. They have played football for 113 years and the last two seasons were the best back-to-back seasons since 1957."

With back-to-back 7-4 seasons in the books, the Orediggers' will be out to string together a third straight winning season, a feat that has not been accomplished since 1913-15.

"Brian was the only senior on the team," said Coach Stitt. "We are building something here. Everyone else is returning juniors and red-shirts."

Coach Stitt had only been with the Orediggers for three seasons. Not a bad track record.

"They are dealing with Nebraska Kearney, which is the spin-off of the University of Nebraska. Even in Division II there are a lot of good football colleges. School of Mines has just been the dog at the bottom – just kicked around – we are playing Mines -- that is a gimmie.

"So he has played on some pretty (bad) teams against some good talent and he didn't have a lot of support and he still excelled. That is what really has been encouraging. People don't realize how bad of a team he was on the first couple of years.

"His quarterback was pretty good. He had a little quarterback out of Arizona. He was only 5-9, 5-10 and he did pretty well but struggled with injuries. Then the brought in a farm kid out of Eastern Colorado he was 6-7, a real tall kid. Chad (Friehauf) ended up being a good quarterback. He played most of last year."

Chad Friehauf, a 6-foot-7 pocket passer, became the permanent starter midway through last season. Friehauf did not disappoint as he earned Honorable Mention All-RMAC accolades finishing as the top-rated passer in the conference with a 145.8 rating as he completed 174-of-281 (61.9%) passes for 2,220 yards, 21 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

"Brian was fighting a high ankle sprain after his fourth game last year. He went right back out the first game he tried to come back on. Brian was never really 100% most of last season. Fighting that high ankle sprain was kind of tough."

"Something people don't realize is he played only 5 years of organized football," said Coach Stitt when we interviewed him in May. "He played baseball in high school and some of his friends played football and he thought it would be fun. He didn't even start as a freshman as a walk-on. He didn't get recruited at all. He should have been a senior this season after red-shirting."

Sump is the first Oredigger football player to sign a professional football contract out of college since an undrafted offensive lineman Jackie Crisp signed with the New York Jets in 1994.

"Then, in spring, he started practicing with the track team," said Kent. "He decided he was going to run in a track meet. He never ran the 60 in his life. There were five or six schools and the University of Colorado was there and he ended up winning that."

Sump beat out CSM student Jimmy Hargrove during the CSM Twilight Open on February 21st. He came in with a time of 6.95 in the first heat and 6.92 en route to a win. Hargrove, who came in second, ran the final heat in 7.10 seconds.

"So he won the 60 in his first track meet. He has worked hard towards keeping his speed up.

"He has accomplished every goal he has put himself up against. His goals are getting a little tougher now."

The Sump family will be driving to watch practice and the preseason games. The goals may be tougher but the family support is still strong.

Denis Savage can be reached at

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