At the recent Nike camp in Los Angeles, Jeff Cumberland of Columbus Brookhaven High School checked in at 6-5 ½ and 220 pounds, ran a laser-timed 4.5 second 40-yard dash and recorded a 33.8-inch vertical jump.
“I feel I did pretty good out there but I felt that I could have did a little better,” Cumberland said. “I thought I was going to run a little faster but it was all right. It was pretty fast for all of the other times people had.”
Cumberland (pictured, right) is certainly a physical specimen be it on the gridiron or the hardwood.
“Basketball helps me out a whole lot because basketball keeps me in condition and basketball keeps me out of trouble,” he said. “I love playing basketball and I love playing football, it just depends on which season it is.”
Football however is certain to be the sport that’s going to earn him a free education at an elite level of competition. Cumberland might be recruited as a tight end but he thinks that his future is at the wide receiver position and he hopes to prove it in his senior season.
“I plan on playing receiver next football season for my high school and I plan on playing receiver in college and hopefully make it to the next level after college as a receiver,” Cumberland said. “Right now I’m at the perfect size for a receiver. I’m bigger than some receivers in the League (NFL) right now and I’m faster than some of the receivers in the league right now. My height and my speed and my ability to catch the ball and jump can help me get a ticket to the League.”
After playing mostly as a quarterback and then a wide receiver in his little league football career, Cumberland really wanted to be a receiver in high school.
“When I came here they didn’t have any tight ends and they put me at tight end to see how it would work,” he said. “I was doing good at opening up a whole bunch of stuff for the offense so they just kept me at tight end. I was suppose to go out to receiver this year but we didn’t have no other tight ends and I was one of the main targets on offense and I helped our team out a whole lot at tight end.”
This past season was actually Cumberland’s first on offense. He was the team’s leading receiver with 19 catches for 372 yards and he scored 8 touchdowns playing strictly as a tight end. He didn’t play high school football until his sophomore year at Brookhaven and he started at defensive end that season. He only played sparingly on offense that year.
But now is the time for Cumberland to fulfill his ambition to become a wide receiver.
“I’ve always figured that receiver would be a lot easier for me to do and it can help me get to college,” he said. “And that’s all that I’m trying to do. I’m trying to get to the next level.”
As a tight end Cumberland definitely presents match up problems for a defense. But his height alone as a wide receiver also creates similar problems for the cornerbacks that he’ll go against.
“Most of the DBs aren’t really tall enough to cover me and then I have the speed to go with it. And plus I can jump,” he said. “Just being so tall I can catch the ball over the top of the little guys.”
And his quarterback at Brookhaven, Michael McGee, returns for his senior season as well. Look for the Bearcats to chuck the football through the air a lot more next year than they did during their undefeated state championship season last year.
“Me and him had a nice little thing going on last year and this year it will be even better,” Cumberland said. “We spend more time together and we talk more and everything, so it should be a lot better.”
His stock is almost certain to rise after word of his strong individual performance at the Nike camp in Los Angeles gets around. Already Cumberland is getting a lot of mail from schools like Ohio State, Miami, Florida, Syracuse, Illinois, Minnesota, Michigan State, Indiana Boston College and others from all over the country.
Ohio State is certainly one of his top schools at this point in the recruiting season.
“This is my hometown and I’ve always liked Ohio State since I was brought up as a kid,” Cumberland said. “I’ve always admired Ohio State and I’ve always been a Buckeye fan.”
But the lure to follow his fellow Bearcats to Minnesota is very strong. Dominic Jones, Keith Massey and Alex Daniels all inked letters of intent last February to play for the Gophers in the fall.
“I know that I would have people there that I would know and I would be very comfortable there,” Cumberland said. “And there are already a few people there from Columbus like Ernie Wheelwright.”
But he intends to be patient and wait for the offers to come in before he’ll be in any position to make a decision.
“I’m just going to take it slowly and hope that my recruiting opportunities will increase,” Cumberland said. “I’m going to wait until I make a commitment. I want to wait and take my time and take my visits. I don’t just want to commit anywhere quickly and not know for sure if I want to go there or not. If a college wants me bad enough then they will still be there at the end when it’s time for me to commit.”
For now, however, Cumberland just wants to concentrate on his senior season. Brookhaven will move up to Division I next year and they have Cleveland Glenville on their schedule early in the season.
“I plan on playing hard and I’m going to try to get my team to another state championship,” he said.