ALLENDALE, Mich. – On Friday night, junior tight end Nate Umlor and the Allendale team faced an impressive Comstock Park offensive attack. Ultimately, Monterio Smith and the Comstock Park offense was too much to upend as the Panthers cruised to a 44-27 victory, but Umlor displayed impressive skills despite the Falcons’ loss.
“As a team, I think we’ve been doing good,” Umlor told Today’s U. “We’ve won the ones we were supposed to so far, but I think we are a very, very young team still. I know it’s towards the end of the season, but it’s full of a lot of juniors who have never played varsity football. I think we are starting to work together, so hopefully we get the win next week and have a chance in the playoffs.”
Umlor checks in at 6-foot-6 and 245-pounds. As a junior in the western Michigan area, he displays a rare combination of size, athleticism and ball skills. This package is not often seen in the Allendale area, and Umlor has experienced what he called a “sweet” season so far.
“The last three games against Coopersville, Sparta and Comstock tonight, I thought I have played my best three games of the year,” Umlor said. “I needed to step up my game a little bit and I thought I have, so it’s been a really good season.”
While Umlor sees positives in Friday night’s loss, the Comstock Park player of the game was undoubtedly Monterio Smith. As a running back, wide receiver and defensive back, Smith was the dynamic talent needed for the Panthers to take over the game.
“That kid is one of the best football players I’ve ever played against,” Umlor said of Smith. “He breaks tackles, catches footballs out of the backfield and that kid does it all. It’s tough to match up to him, but after the first two drives and the fumble towards the end zone, I thought we came back and had a lot of good drives. We had a sack and a forced fumble. I thought we did our job today.”
Although Allendale ended its matchup with Comstock Park on the losing end, the Falcons fought back late in the game and showed signs of a spirited team, which was only evidenced by Umlor’s retaliatory comments.
“That’s what we’ve done,” Umlor said. “Against Coopersville, we were down 13-0 with three minutes left in the game, came back and won. We are a resilient team and we handle adversity better than any team I’ve been on. I think that we are very good onside kick-wise. We have two of them on the year and almost got three of them tonight. Offensively, we are changing everything every week. This week, I played in the backfield a little bit as a lead blocker and went out for some passes. That was a role I’ve never done in my life, but I was like, ‘whatever.’ I didn’t really care.”
As a junior prospect who could play multiple positions, Umlor has the advantage of potentially filling many roles for a college football team at the next level. Umlor has size, agility and skills to play tight end, but the junior athlete also has the strength to combat an offensive line when used on defense. Umlor says that each school is handling his development differently and the Michigan native is taking a wait-and-see approach.
“Each school is kind of different,” Umlor said. “Recruiting me, I have Michigan and Michigan is looking at me for a tight end. Western [Michigan] is looking at me for tight end. Northwestern is looking at me for defensive end. Iowa is looking at me for offensive tackle and offensive lineman. Tennessee is looking at me for tight end. Most of them are tight end with Illinois, Purdue, Toledo and Miami (Oh.).”
This weekend, Umlor is going to visit Miami (Oh.), as the 1-5 RedHawks host the 3-3 Northern Illinois Huskies for a 2:30 p.m. tilt. When Umlor visits, the junior athlete will learn which position Miami prefers him at.
“I don’t really know what they are looking at me for,” Umlor said. “ I will find out. Illinois is looking at me for tight end. Most of them are tight end, but I’m looking to create a good relationship with the coaches. Hopefully I get to meet coach Martin because he coached here and at Grand Valley and Allendale. Hopefully I would get to meet him and obviously the staff. They are top-notch down there. I haven’t met them yet, but I know they are going to be top-notch.”
While Umlor is taking his first visit to Miami’s campus, the junior prospect is already familiar with one of the RedHawks’ senior commits. During AAU basketball, Umlor played with Mona Shores athlete Kobe Burse, a current RedHawks senior football commit.
“I’m just really excited to watch the RedHawks get a win,” Umlor said. “They are a top-notch program down there. I have a friend of mine— Kobe Burse— who is going down there. He is not going there for no reason. He’s going there because he is a good football player and it’s a good football program.”
After this weekend’s visit to Miami, Umlor has a rough idea of the programs that he will visit.
“I am unsure of next week or the weeks after that,” Umlor said. “The only one I am sure of is Tennessee to watch the Vanderbilt game on November 28th. I am really excited about that one. I love visiting and going down to Knoxville. It is beautiful down there.”
Click here to watch Umlor’s highlight tape.