It’s a new landscape out there in college football between the NCAA Transfer Portal and players’ ability to redshirt despite playing in four games but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few decisions that reach the nexus of both and take an unexpected twist.
At least it seems that way in light of recent news out of Norfolk as Old Dominion confirmed that ex-Virginia Tech starting wideout and grad transfer to the team Eric Kumah will instead opt to redshirt this year for the Monarchs instead of playing out the rest of the campaign.
The senior, who curiously has played both for and against ODU in his career, recently returned to action on Saturday in a loss to Lane Kiffin’s Florida Atlantic squad. The receiver caught a career-high 10 passes for 99 yards in the blowout, which dropped the team to 1-7 on the year and likely played a role in taking the redshirt.
“I’ll take this offeason, and this’ll be my first offseason to do everything to get healthy, so I feel like this is a good move,” Kumah told the school’s website.
Kumah was dealing with a knee injury this season (he had surgery in the spring) and had not played since a loss at Virginia on Sept. 21. Saturday’s contest was his fourth, the limit players have to be under in order to still utilize a redshirt year.
ODU has lost seven in a row in 2019 and travel to FIU for their next game. The Monarchs are extremely young overall so Kumah’s experience was expected to help jumpstart an offense that ranks No. 128 in scoring but it appears the program is building toward the future with moves like this and a lost season at hand.
It’s déjà vu all over again when it comes to a Conference USA school adding a transfer from the same ACC program.
Earlier this week, wide receiver Eric Kumah, who in January announced his decision to transfer from Virginia Tech, tweeted that he would continue his collegiate playing career at Old Dominion. On Twitter Wednesday night, Chris Cunningham (pictured, center), a teammate of Kumah at Tech, announced that he has decided to transfer to, you guessed it, Old Dominion.
As a graduate transfer, Cunningham will be eligible to play immediately at ODU in 2019.
Primarily a blocking tight end, Cunningham started a pair of games in 2018 for the Hokies and finished the season with 74 yards and two touchdowns on seven catches. He leaves Blacksburg with 22 receptions for 297 yards and seven touchdowns in his career — including one (pictured, center) against his new school.
A subplot in these twin roster developments? Old Dominion beat then-No. 13 Virginia Tech last season to earn that football program’s first-ever win over a Power Five school. An even better subplot? ODU will face Tech in Week 2 of the 2019 season — and Cunningham and Kumah will be eligible to play against their former team in Blacksburg.
Former Virginia Tech wideout Eric Kumah will play his final season at Old Dominion, the player has announced.
“I want to thank Coach Foster for giving me the opportunity to attend this prestigious university,” Kumah tweeted. “I would also like to thank Coach Wiggins for believing in me the last 3 years, for that I will forever be thankful. After talking it over with my family and being informed that my position coach (Coach Wiggins) has accepted a position elsewhere, I’ve decided that its best for me to enter my name into the transfer portal. This will allow me to explore my options as a graduate transfer for my senior season. Overall, I feel that is best for my future. I will never forget the memories made at Virginia Tech. I will always support my teammates no matter where I end up and hope you all reach your goals. Once a Hokie always a Hokie.”
Kumah saw the field as a true freshman in 2016 but did not record any statistics. However, he quickly rose the ranks from there, hauling in 28 grabs for 324 yards and a pair of scores in 2017, then 42 receptions for 559 yards and seven touchdowns in 2018. He was Virginia Tech’s second-leading receiver last season.
For the record, Kumah snared three receptions for 35 yards when his new team beat his old team, 49-35, on Sept. 22.
Old Dominion represents a good opportunity for Kumah, as the Monarchs’ top three receivers — Travis Fulgham, Jonathan Duhart and Isaiah Harper — all graduated. The trio combined for 192 receptions for 2,607 yards and 19 touchdowns last season, all of which are up for grabs this fall.
On the same day Virginia Tech wished good luck to their former wide receivers coach, the Hokies officially welcomed Jafar Williams as the new receivers coach in Blacksburg.
“I knew the qualities we wanted in an assistant coach and recruiter to fill this position,” Virginia Tech head coach Justin Fuente said in a released statement. “Jafar possesses familiarity with our offensive philosophy, as well as our coaching style and expectations. Jafar has been through the recruiting process as a coach and a student-athlete and has built solid relationships across our region. He has also paid his dues in the coaching ranks, gained experience in a variety of different positions during his career. We’re excited about him joining our coaching staff at Virginia Tech.”
Williams will join a staff that will look to find some stability with the offense in 2019 after a handful of roster changes this offseason. A number of Virginia Tech players have entered their name into the NCAA transfer portal, including wide receiver Eric Kumah and quarterback Josh Jackson.
For Williams, this is a return to the ACC. A former wide receiver at Maryland when the Terrapins were a part of the ACC, Williams will be an assistant coach for the first time in the ACC after years of experience with multiple Big Ten programs (Maryland, Rutgers, Purdue, and Northwestern).
Williams will replace Holmon Wiggins, who is leaving Virginia Tech to join the coaching staff at Alabama.
This is certainly an odd development that, given the plethora of transfers that only continues to rise, could actually become the norm.
Tuesday night, a pair of Virginia Tech football players, including second-leading receiver Eric Kumah, took to Twitter to announce that they had decided to transfer/enter their name into the NCAA transfer database. A day later, it’s being reported that Josh Jackson, who, after going through a tumultuous offseason, began 2018 as the Hokies’ starting quarterback only to suffer a season-ending injury, has placed his name in the transfer database as well.
Given all of the abrupt roster upheaval, Tech head coach Justin Fuente issued a statement Wednesday afternoon somewhat addressing the developments over the last 24 hours or so.