Beaufort News

Hesitation turns to excitement for Beaufort’s Omar Cummings

Omar's off to SC State: What sealed the deal for Beaufort star

On National Signing Day, Beaufort High School football star — and American record-breaking weightlifter — Omar Cummings signed to put on the pads next season at South Carolina State University. Feb. 1, 2017.
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On National Signing Day, Beaufort High School football star — and American record-breaking weightlifter — Omar Cummings signed to put on the pads next season at South Carolina State University. Feb. 1, 2017.

At first, Omar Cummings didn’t want to say yes to South Carolina State.

The Bulldogs were the first to make an offer to Beaufort’s powerful running back, but Cummings didn’t want to jump at the first thing to come his way. So he waited.

And so did the Bulldogs. Then both sides waited some more.

The waiting game continued to play out even until last weekend, when Cummings finally took a visit to the Orangeburg campus on the final opportunity before National Signing Day. In the end, the Bulldogs got their man and Cummings might have wondered why he played so hard-to-get.

The running back was all smiles Wednesday when he signed his letter-of-intent, finalizing a match that might have been in the cards all along.

“It was kind of hard not to go there,” Cummings said after the formalities were complete, surrounded by family that included younger brother C.J., with his own set of athletic feats in weightlifting.

“It was just the right offer. Nobody (else) was really coming by, and they were always there. I finally went there on my official visit, and they welcomed me.”

Cummings was the power option in Beaufort’s three-pronged rushing attack, selected to the North/South All-Star showcase after pacing the Eagles with 1,270 yards and 16 touchdowns. That followed a junior season highlighted by a 404-yard outing against Berkeley in which his eight TDs came within one of the state record.

He’ll join an SCSU program that ranked near the middle in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference in rushing, averaging 151.2 yards per contest. Top rusher Bishop Ford will be back, but he amassed just 567 yards and no other running back gained more than 133 on the season.

“I think it’s a perfect fit. I really do,” Beaufort coach Mark Clifford said.

The problem, perhaps, was convincing Cummings.

S.C. State coaches took a shine to him during a combine last summer, making their interest known even before the season began.

“They worked the hardest on him and cared more about him than any other opportunities he might have had,” Clifford said. “I think the most important thing about it is who wants you more. Who wants you the most? And South Carolina State has been showing interest since before the season.”

A few other schools showed interest, Clifford said, but no offers came of it. Finally, Cummings agreed to take his official visit last weekend.

“The team showed me love very early,” he said, “so now I have a good feeling about going there.”

The Eagles had one other signing at Wednesday’s ceremony, as Heily Hernandez signed to play soccer at North Greenville.

Jeff Shain: 843-706-8123, @jeffshain

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