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Small school, small world, big dreams


A contrast emerges this weeked at wide receiver with seventh-round speedster Mario Alford of West Virginia (above) on display with lanky Division III free agent Jake Krumerow at the Bengals rookie minicamp.

While Eric Kumerow got that surprise first-round call from NFL legend Don Shula, 27 years later son Jake got no call. And his dad is ecstatic because he ended up as a Bengals wide receiver in college free agency.

"We couldn't be happier where he is right now,' Eric Kumerow said Thursday as he reflected on a very draining Saturday, the last day of the draft.

"Reading the press reports and going off Jake's numbers in his career at Wisconsin-Whitewater, we thought it would happen in the sixth, seventh round," his dad said. "When it was late in the seventh, it was, wow, it's not going to happen… (But) we think it's a perfect fit."

The Bengals won't officially announce their rookie free-agents until the physicals are completed before Friday afternoon's first practice on the field. They'll go twice Saturday and once more Sunday before the facility gets turned back over to the veterans on Monday. They'll also have a variety of unsigned players practicing this weekend who could stick if they impress.

It's believed that one of them will be former Raiders quarterback Terrelle Pryor. Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson coached Pryor when he was a rookie in Oakland in 2011, the year the Raiders took him out of Ohio State in the third round of the supplemental draft. He hasn't played since 2013, when he went 3-6 as the starter for the Raiders with seven touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He's 3-7 in his NFL starts and has a career passer rating of 69.3.

But the 6-6, 240-pound Pryor is just 25 and has abundant skills and indications are the Bengals are going to take a look at Pryor this weekend to see if he's worthy of signing and joining AJ McCarron and Josh Johnson behind Andy Dalton when the veterans' on-field practices begin the week before Memorial Day later this month. All four have spent some of the offseason at Dr. Tom House's quarterbacks camp. Pryor was cut by the Chiefs earlier this week.

The 6-5, 209-pound Kumerow is one of the more intriguing free agents the Bengals are going to view after he helped Whitewater to the past two Division III national titles. He missed four games last season with an ankle injury, but still finished with 36 touchdowns and 16.8 yards per his 158 catches in three seasons after he transferred from Illinois.

Dept. of Small World: The man who scouted Kumerow for the Bengals, area scout Bill Tobin, tried to make a trade to draft rush linebacker Eric Kumerow as general manager of the Bears in 1988, but Miami got there first. Tobin got him three years later in a 1991 trade that sent Bears cornerback Vestee Jackson to the Dolphins for Kumerow, struggling in a 3-4 scheme during three seasons he had five sacks.

Kumerow never had a chance to show what he could do in Chicago in the regular season, suffering a career-ending torn Achilles during what he felt had been a good training camp.

"Back then with a 250-pound tweener, that was a tough scheme to break into," Eric Kumerow said.

But he thinks his son has a better chance in Cincinnati, where the Bengals took a seventh-rounder speedster in West Virginia's Mario Alford. The Bengals liked Kumerow's height complementing 4.5 40-yard speed

"We knew the Bengals were interested. He had been there to visit and Bill Tobin went to visit him," Eric Kumerow said. "But (the pick) makes sense. They're two different types of receivers. You've got a faster, smaller return guy and the other guy is a big possession receiver that can grow to 235 pounds, take hits, and get it done on third down."

Kumerow says his son has a big enough frame to put on those extra 25 pounds and he should know because he did the same thing at Ohio State. He arrived as a 218-pound quarterback and left Columbus as a 260-pound first-round linebacker. Jake Kumerow's style of play reminds his dad of Packers Pro Bowler Jordy Nelson.

The pedigree is hard to beat. Jake's cousin is Ohio State defensive end Joey Bosa, who could be the first player drafted next year. He's the  son of Eric's sister and John Bosa, the Boston College defensive tackle the Dolphins took with that same 16th pick the year before in 1987.

"Honestly, I feel like he's got some of the best hands I've seen," Eric said. "He was a late bloomer coming out of high school at 175 pounds and it was a matter of him getting on the field. My daughter was already at Whitewater, so that really worked out. He's got a knack for catching the ball in traffic."

That's a trait that would survive in any era. But Kumerow clearly realized he was a dinosaur as he watched this year's draft. All the hype, all the glitz, but back in '88 there wasn't all that much buzz around him because he was thinking anywhere between the second and fifth rounds.

So when NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle called, "Eric Kumerow,' with the 16th pick, he almost fell out of his chair. And if he did, no one would have been around to help him because all his guests had left the room between picks since nothing much went on. Since this was before cell phones, kids, he manned the land line and got about 15 calls from reporters until Shula confirmed what Rozelle had announced.

"He said, 'We've got you,' and within a week I was headed to Miami,"  Kumerow says.

More Small World Dept: Eric Kumerow is a salesman for UBU, sports surfacing specialists and the firm where the Bengals got their current playing field.

"You check out our web site ( and a picture of the Bengals field is right there," Kumerow said. "How about that?"

So far, a pretty good fit.

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