MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Tyler Sumpter certainly knew how to play with the heart strings of West Virginia fans.
The former Troy kicker and punter announced on his Twitter account he was headed to WVU as a grad transfer Sunday night, but it came with some added flare. A video began with Sumpter kayaking down a river as he leaned back and fell asleep. He was awoken by fans singing “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” then paddled away with a WVU flag flying on the back of the kayak and coonskin cap on his head.
“It’s exactly 683 miles to Morgantown,” Sumpter said in the video. “If I leave now, I could make it by fall camp. It’ll be a privilege to represent the Mountaineers and that Old Gold and Blue. “Coach Brown, thanks for the opportunity. I’m coming home.”
While Sumpter appears to be cut from a similar cloth as former WVU kicker and punter Pat McAfee when it comes to his multimedia abilities, Sumpter fills a significant need for the Mountaineers on the field.
Sumpter played for Neal Brown at Troy from 2017-18, so there is a previous connection with a lot of the coaching staff, including Matt Moore, Vic Koenning and Jordan Lesley.
Sumpter will only have one season of eligibility remaining, and he shouldn’t be needed as a kicker with Evan Stale and Casey Legg both back for WVU. However, with Josh Growden, a former grad transfer himself, gone, there was a drastic need for a punter.
Kolton McGhee, Evan Matthes and Leighton Bechdel are other punters currently on WVU’s roster, but none have game experience.
In his career at Troy, Sumpter averaged 42.2 yards per attempt on 156 career punts. His career-high came under Brown in 2018 when Sumpter averaged 45.1 yards per punt.
If he does kick, Sumpter made 39 of 51 field goal attempts in his career and made all 125 extra-point attempts.