Since he transferred from Kansas State three years ago, Northern Colorado’s Clarence Bumpas has always been a heavy hitter.
“He’s big, he’s physical and he’s fast,” said Cal Poly head coach Tim Walsh, whose Mustangs end the season against the Bears in Greeley, Colo., today. “Bumpas is a guy who plays sideline to sideline. He’s the emotional leader of their team. He is who they are, so he’s a guy we’re going to have to deal with, no question.”
Now, he’s playing with a heavy heart.
The senior linebacker, who ranks first among FCS players with a career tackle average of 11.23 per game, wears a cross around his neck containing remains of the 23-month-old son he lost over the summer.
Justyce Cheatham died in June with evidence of severe child abuse on his body. His mother Jacqueline Cheatham, with whom Bumpas was once attached, and her life partner Tiara Dunmars were arrested and charged with first-degree murder in the death.
Bumpas said he and Jacqueline Cheatham had been estranged for more than a year when she moved to Baton Rouge, La. Though he hadn’t seen his son in that span, the loss still hit hard.
“My son,” Bumpas said when asked of his proudest achievement in the months following the death. “It’s probably the only thing I’ve ever actually done 100 percent right.”