PLANTATION — While one of the elite high school football programs in the country practiced in early November, its head coach took a break on the sideline, gazed across the field and proudly brought up the variety of backgrounds that accompany his American Heritage School players.
“I’ve got a singer; I’ve got a bunch of dancers; I’ve got a cowboy; I’ve got a 4-foot-5, 95-pound running back,” Mike Rumph said. “We’re as diverse as it comes, and then every ethnicity you can think of: Bohemian, Jamaican, Seminole Indian, Haitian, African American, Jewish kids.”
The melting pot in Plantation churned its way to an 8-1 record in the regular season before attention shifted to the state playoffs. For the second year in a row, 6-foot-5, 190-pound Seminole cowboy Blevyns Jumper is the long snapper for Heritage, which concluded the regular season ranked No. 1 in Florida’s Class 5A poll and 11th in the nation by MaxPreps. Those hands from the Big Cypress Reservation used for lassoing steer in rodeo arenas proved handy on football fields, too.
“We barely have any issues on punt team or field goal because he’s so good at what he does,” Rumph said.
Blevyns’ contributions also come on punt coverage when work remains to be done after the ball is hiked.
“Pretty much every time [Blevyns] goes out there, he makes a tackle or has an assist. He’s a tremendous asset to us,” said Rumph, whose team won a state title in 2013 with Blevyns’ brother Andre on the squad and repeated that feat in 2014 with both brothers.
Even as state and national accolades accumulate for Heritage, Blevyns said the team’s mantra is always to keep everything in perspective.
“Don’t let that get to your head, saying, ‘I’m the best because I’m at the best school.’ Work your hardest at the best school, and then you will be the best,” said Blevyns, who was honored along with his fellow teammates from the Class of 2016 during the team’s senior night and regular season finale Oct. 30.
A year ago, Andre was among the senior night honorees. With Andre away playing football at Hutchinson Community College in Kansas, this time it was Blevyns’ turn as he was joined by his parents, Josh and Andrea, and younger sisters Ahnie and Canaan in a pregame ceremony. The Patriots proceeded to cap off the night with a district-clinching 38-15 win against Hallandale.
“That was a good senior night,” Blevyns said.
As a long snapper, Blevyns’ main responsibility is to make sure snaps on extra points, field goals and punts are delivered promptly and accurately. It’s a role he takes seriously.
“Don’t get psyched out about what position you’re in and how to do it; just go out there, take a deep breath and snap this,” Blevyns said about his approach to snapping, which has worked.
Among senior long snappers, Blevyns is ranked No. 61 in the nation by Rubio Long Snapping. Unfortunately for long snappers, the position does not generate the same scholarship opportunities compared to other positions.
“A scholarship would be great, but it’s very tough for that niche unless that school comes and that’s exactly what they need,” Rumph said.
Although scholarships for long snappers are rare, they do exist. An article about college recruiting on BleacherReport.com in April stated long snapper is “a position of importance that’s gaining more and more traction in the world of recruiting…”
“I coached the Army All-American game last year and they had a snapper who was an All-American long snapper and he went to Western Michigan to long snap. He’s on scholarship. It’s there,” Rumph said.
Long snapping isn’t the only avenue Blevyns could take to college. He’s competed in rodeo throughout the country nearly all his life, which is one reason Rumph allowed Blevyns to miss practices after the regular season finale so he could compete at the Indian National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas.
“We had a bye week. I know that’s his passion and I know that’s probably another way for him to get into college,” Rumph said. “I hope it opens up more possibilities for him.”
Blevyns said he was scheduled in mid-November to meet with a rodeo coach from a college in Mississippi.
After football season ends, Blevyns said his focus will return to rodeo for the winter. As for next fall, Blevyns said being on a college rodeo team or college football team – or perhaps both – would be an ideal situation.
“I really like rodeo a lot, but it would be nice to play college football,” he said.
After the regular season ended, American Heritage opened the Class 5A playoffs Nov. 13 with a 43-0 win against Westwood before being eliminated a week later by Hallandale, 27-20, in a regional semifinal. Heritage finished with a 9-2 record.