By Ian Guerin, SCVarsity.com/Deep South Football
Regional Editor, Coastal/Pee Dee Area
MYRTLE BEACH | A few short months ago, college programs were just starting to sniff around Evan Jumper.
Now it’s a different story.
Since nearby Coastal Carolina became the first school to offer the Myrtle Beach offensive lineman in late January, Jumper’s list has increased by an average of one every five days. Joining the Chanticleers so far have been Furman, Middle Tennessee State, Army, Old Dominion, Wofford, The Citadel, Western Carolina, Charlotte, Appalachian State, Kent State, Gardner-Webb, Charleston Southern, Marshall, Texas-San Antonio, Tulane, Campbell, Rutgers, Georgia Southern and North Greenville.
Don’t worry about memorizing those. There will probably be plenty more by the time his senior season wraps up next fall.
“I never really expected this to happen,” he said. “When Coastal offered me, I was shocked. I thought I could always play with them, but I never thought it would blow up like this.
“A lot has happened in a very short period of time. I really wanted to [play college football]. That was my goal. I thought maybe I could walk on at Coastal. I could maybe play D-II somewhere, maybe on a partial scholarship. But when Rutgers called me, I was like ‘This is cool.’”
Jumper’s jumping scholarship list is a product of his versatility and experience on the line, not to mention his significant gains on the scales and in the weight room. As a sophomore, when he began starting for Mickey Wilson’s Seahawks, Jumper was listed at just 189 pounds. Seeing as he was already 6-foot-3, he looked lanky – not exactly a compliment for a lineman.
He went to work on changing his look, joining up with personal trainer and former Conway and NFL linebacker Jonathon Sharpe. Month by month, the change was noticeable.
“He has put a good deal of positive weight,” Wilson said. “He’s 6-4, 250. He’s been able to put on that weight and remain athletic. He moves his feet extremely well. That’s the main reason on film everybody fell in love with him.”
Wilson said the transformation combined with the technical gifts has led Jumper to be among the best, if not the best, lineman during the coach’s 10-year tenure. He’s been compared with Jason Rexroad and T.J. Jones, two former Seahawks who initially signed with Middle Tennesee State and Kentucky, respectively, out of high school.
However, unlike those two, Jumper has also given himself more options by playing multiple positions.
Last fall, he started five regular-season games at left tackle and another five at center. He also handles long-snapping duties on punts and extra points. It means more tape, more exposure, at a time when the guy running the offense is also dragging in college scouts by the handful.
Rising junior quarterback Luke Doty has offers from SEC, ACC and Big XII programs.
“We’re kind of two different levels. He’s a power-five type of guy,” Jumper said. “But I know I’m doing my job when he’s getting offered by TCU. If he’s not getting sacked, it means he can win games. … I would be happy if [the major programs] just looked at me. I don’t know if I can compete – I’d like to think I could – with some of those guys they recruit. I’m pretty realistic guy. I know my place.”
That place is changing, though, and it’s only a matter of time until Jumper and his family start working on a decision that will determine his next step. He said Coastal is among his top group, but that’s about as far as he’ll go.
And why would he think anything else?
Six months ago, the honor-roll student was thinking of a future that would lead to him to one day coach college football. Now, he’s on a path to be playing it first.