Eric Kumah received plenty of praise from Justin Fuente throughout the offseason. However, that praise didn’t meet reality early in the season. Kumah struggled in the first four games with only one catch for five yards. That catch didn’t come till the Hokies’ fourth game against ODU as he was a non-factor in the first three games.
However, Kumah has turned the corner recently and is starting to live up to expectations.
Kumah started this improvement against Clemson with 3 receptions for 17 yards. While it wasn’t a significant performance, it did give him some confidence that only grew this past weekend.
Eric Kumah had his breakout game this past weekend against Boston College with 4 receptions for 53 yards. Kumah was consistent throughout the game, and made some important catches to keep drives going. Kumah was that big, physical receiver who was able to use his size to his advantage as shown when he ran over an opposing defender on a 23-yard gain.
Kumah’s strong performance made it clear that he’s starting to find some confidence. Yesterday, Kumah mentioned how Saturday was a “confidence boost” for him as he is becoming more comfortable in live game action (via hokiesports.com).
“I feel like I’m getting more confident in my play style, with my body, and what I can and cannot do,” Eric Kumah said. “It felt good, last week, to go out there and show that I can do that, especially to the coaches.”
Kumah’s surging confidence isn’t a surprise to WRs coach Holmon Wiggins.
“The thing about (Eric) Kumah is that he doesn’t lack any (confidence) of that so that’s a great thing,” Wiggins said.
It was hard to see that confidence during the Hokies’ non-conference games, but that confidence has been on display the past two weeks. Kumah gained some confidence against Clemson that showed last weekend against Boston College in his breakout performance.
Part of Kumah’s success was due to his size as a big, physical receiver who can take some hits and is extremely hard to take down. At 6’2” and 220 pounds, Kumah is one of the biggest receivers in the ACC and that gives him some different expectations according to Holmon Wiggins.
“(Eric) Kumah is 220 pounds, and we expect him to be able to absorb some of those shots and play like he’s a big receiver,” Wiggins said.
On Saturday night, Kumah did exactly that. His 23-yard reception stood out in particular due to the highlight nature of him running through a Boston College defender. However, Kumah consistently found ways to use his size to his advantage against smaller cornerbacks who couldn’t do much about it.
The Hokies have been lacking that big, physical receiver on the outside so far this season. Yes, the Hokies have h-back Dalton Keene, who had a big game against BC, but Keene works primarily out of the h-back spot where a linebacker will likely line up against him.
Having a bigger receiver gives Brad Cornelsen some more options in his playbook. Cam Phillips has shown he can go up and win 50-50 balls that very few smaller receivers can win. However, the Hokies need a bigger receiver on the outside who can be consistently relied on to provide a more physical option, and Kumah has provided exactly that.
The question that now remains is whether Kumah can keep up this pace. Kumah has only had one big game with the sophomore WR averaging under 6 yards per catch for his 3 catches against Clemson along with an average of under 10 yards per catch this season. Next Saturday against North Carolina will be a great opportunity for Kumah to continue to build on his confidence that is starting to show.
Eric Kumah struggled early this season, but broke through Saturday night and played with confidence that we haven’t seen from him all season. Kumah gave the Hokies the big, physical receiver that they’ve been lacking on the outside all season.
Now, it’s up to Kumah to continue to play with that confidence and consistently give the Hokies that bigger, outside target that Justin Fuente has been expecting Kumah would be since the spring.