Defensive lineman Kelvin Ume verbally committed to Western Carolina this week, about the same time receiver Xavier Borishade picked Chattanooga. Receiver Nick Miller is also expected to go to the powerful league of the Football Championship Subdivision, having committed to Furman.
Ume felt a bond similar to what he had with his North Cobb teammates when he visited the Catamounts’ Cullowhee, N.C., campus and it led to his decision to choose Western Carolina over SoCon rival Georgia Southern, Fordham, Buffalo and Eastern Kentucky.
“I’m very excited about it,” Ume said. “The coaches are very welcoming and the players are welcoming. Basically, there is a brotherhood at the school.”
The Catamounts will rely on Ume to perform similarly to how he did at North Cobb, and that’s to split time at defensive end and defensive tackle. Ume also said there are no plans for him to sit out a year as a redshirt, with the coaching staff wanting him to come prepared and battle for a position right away.
Having not played football until his freshman year of high school, when he was living in Ohio, Ume picked it up quickly and scouts were impressed with his strength, elusivness and versatility. The 6-foot-2, 253-pound Ume, who can bench-press 350 pounds and squat 450, said he was told he needed to improve his speed for the next level.
“He’s going to get better every year, and his potential is through the roof,” North Cobb coach Shane Queen said. “He’ll play in the Southern Conference, and it will be neat seeing Kelvin, Borishade and Miller playing against each other. I’m excited for all three of those guys.”
Ume, who came to the United States 10 years ago from Nigeria, said he enjoys playing both defensive line positions. He also said he loves getting to the quarterback when he is on the end, and he loves stopping the run and outmuscling interior linemen.
Ume was given the role of playing both positions when he transferred to North Cobb from Wheeler before his junior season. He finished with 85 tackles as a senior and led the Warriors to an 11-3 season and a berth in the Class AAAAA state semifinals.
Ume said his best game was North Cobb’s 42-14 first-round win over Valdosta. He accumulated 16 tackles and a sack, and he also helped the defensive line hold Valdosta to 22 rushing yards.
Another memorable win was beating Walton 49-17 in the regular season, where Ume helped the North Cobb defense contain Alabama-bound running back Tyren Jones to 181 yards — after he had run for more than 300 the previous week.
“(Beating) Walton bonded us together, and it gave us the sense that we could do anything,” Ume said. “Walton was the team to beat at the time, and we came out and did what we do best.”