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August 31, 2011Chad Bumphis burst onto the scene two years ago in his first game as a true freshman.
Mississippi State was lacking in receivers during Dan Mullen's first season and Bumphis walked right into a starting role and scored two touchdowns in his first career game.
Now embarking on his third season in Starkville, Bumphis has been the Bulldogs leading receiver in each of the past two years but is still working as hard as ever to improve his craft.
"One of the hard things for Chad is that he had to come in and be a starter as a freshman," Mullen said. "He didn't have that upperclassmen to learn from with the development. That's something that you really want young guys to have. He's just had to go on it on his own. That's a tough route. But this summer he's really tried to improve himself and look at himself on film and find every negative in his game and take it to a higher level."
There are two aspects of his game that Bumphis has worked to improve during the offseason.
"My two main things were not slowing down coming out of my routes and become a better blocker," Bumphis said. "Coach Angelo (Mirando)will point out something every day when we watch film and every day I'll go out and try to work on it."
During his career the junior has hauled in 76 passes for 1,009 yards and nine touchdowns. He has suited up for 24 games and earned 16 starts at receiver.
Last season the 5-foot-11, 200-pounder made 44 grabs for 634 yards and five touchdowns before breaking his collarbone in the regular season finale against Ole Miss which kept him out of action for the Gator Bowl.
Bumphis admits watching the Bulldogs bowl victory from the sidelines was tough on him.
"It was pretty hard," Bumphis said. "I was begging the trainers to let me play but it wasn't happening. It was good to see them go out and win like that."
But as the 2011 seasons approaches, Bumphis stated that his injury has healed up and he is "100-percent ready to go".
Bumphis' skill set just doesn't stop at receiver. The Tupelo, Miss., native also has 23 carries for 190 yards, 21 punt returns for 182 yards, 24 kickoff returns for 526 yards as well as completing 1-of-2 passing for five yards.
Mullen has lined Bumphis up in the wildcat formation several times during his career and hinted it could happen even more this fall.
"Chad has that abilty," Mullen said. "He played quarterback in high school a bunch. Chad is a guy I feel comfortable being all over the field. Now that he understands our offense a lot better, he knows what he's doing at the receiver position now, so it's a lot easier to move him around to have fun and have him play quarterback, running back and do all those different things."
Playing multiple positions, especially wildcat quarterback, is something that Bumphis has embraced. In his first collegiate play in 2009, Bumphis tossed an incomplete pass on and end around. He hopes to have more opportunities like that.
"I beg (Mullen) a little more than I think he'd like for me to," Bumphis said. "I ask him about it quite often. I guess we'll see how that goes."
The former four-star recruit was just as dynamic at Tupelo High School. Bumphis had 2,034 receiving yards, 1,348 rushing yards and 568 passing yards during his career for the Golden Wave and was selected to play in both the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic and the Offense-Defense All-America Bowl.
During his recruitment Bumphis picked up offers from Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Oklahoma, Ole Miss, Tennessee and Texas Tech among others. But heading into year three with the Bulldogs is just fine for the former Freshman All-SEC selection.
"I've been real happy," Bumphis said. "There is no other place I'd rather be. I love it here. I love the fans, the coaches and everything about it."