May 16, 2005

Bowden, Blackwell drop in on Cumbie

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One of the more celebrated prospective recruits Clemson is eyeing this spring is Morris, IL defensive end - tight end Jamie Cumbie, a 6-foot-7, 255-pound jumbo-athlete who has all the right moves on the gridiron, one of the reasons he is headed for a four-star rating this summer when debuts those ratings.

Cumbie, a lifelong Clemson fan and a native of Andrews, SC, took an unofficial visit to Clemson last month, following a trip to North Carolina to attend his older brother's wedding.

Earlier this morning, shortly before 10:30am, the highly touted athlete was seen by Clemson head football coach Tommy Bowden and linebackers coach David Blackwell. "I've known coach Blackwell for a long time," said Morris head coach Dan Darlington shortly after 11:30am. "I knew him when he was at Illinois State in the late 1990's. He and coach Bowden were here for about an hour. You know, I've had a lot of coaches come through here, a lot in my 30 years here. And coach Bowden is right up there with the best of them. He's very friendly, very sociable, he talked to my assistant coaches, and just had nothing but positives to say about us and Clemson. He seemed like a very down-to-earth guy. It was a pleasure to be around him and to talk with him. He's just a really nice guy."

Darlington, whose final year at Morris was last season, will be officially retired in June after guiding the program to a 277-58 record in 30 years, a run that included seven state championship appearances and two state titles.

For the long-time coach, having a blue-chipper like Cumbie has been a pleasure. "He's from South Carolina, as you know, and he was really dropped in our lap, so we have been fortunate to have him. For us, he has been a dream player. He's a great player, and most importantly a great kid. You can tell that he has been raised the right way. When Jamie puts on the uniform, he puts it on to play. He's really a tough, hard-nosed son of a gun."

Cumbie, who was not allowed to have an exchange with Clemson's coaches due to NCAA guidelines, did see the coaches as they walked in and sat in the office while Darlington talked with them. "Coach Bowden walked in and had a smile on his face. He had on an orange Clemson golf, polo-type shirt with khaki pants. Coach Blackwell had on an orange and white stripped Clemson shirt with black pants. They couldn't talk to me, but I was right there. Coach Bowden was telling coach Darlington some stories of when he was coaching here and there, just some of the past jobs he had held in his career. He talked about fishing, too. Evidently he does a lot of fishing right there at his house on the lake. And he talked to coach Darlington about me, and reiterated to him how important I was to them, and how much he wanted me to be at Clemson. Coach Bowden is a funny guy. He'll make you laugh. He's pretty personable," offered Cumbie.

Cumbie, who for the most part this spring has publicly listed Clemson as his favorite, said Monday morning that it was a virtual dead heat between Clemson and Notre Dame entering the final days of May. "I will probably have a decision right after Memorial Day, probably sometime the first week in June. I do want to go ahead and get this out of the way. I know it's a tough decision, I realize that. That's why when I finally make a commitment, I don't want to have any doubts whatsoever. I want to feel completely comfortable."

Cumbie has taken unofficial visits to Clemson, Notre Dame and Illinois this spring. He has no plans to take other visits between now and the time he verbally commits.

This weekend he will be in Tampa, Fla. for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays tryouts. A star on the diamond as well, the talented athlete is still considering future options he may have in baseball.

He projects to be a full qualifier academically.

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