Udom Umoh, a redshirt sophomore speedster, enjoyed a breakout game in Vanderbilt’s 16-14 Music City Bowl victory, collecting his first career receptions and leading the team with three catches for 29 yards. Umoh also contributed on special teams in all 13 games last year. A native Nigerian, he talked about how his father, a professor of animal science, helped re-build a university in his home country, what his greatest strengths on the field are and something people might not know about coach Bobby Johnson.
On how his father helped re-build a university in Nigeria
There’s this university; it was already there in the city, but when he moved there, he became a professor there and they didn’t have a lot of buildings for classrooms. So what he did for money was basically start an egg farm where they raise chickens, and with the eggs they sell them, which is how people get capital a lot in Nigeria. From there, he funded some buildings for the students and the professors, and he also bought a lot of cows and goats and fish to study. They’re doing something with fish, but they use the milk to sell it and they use it for study. Sometimes they’ll sell the meat for money also. When I went back, it was very well-done. They’d done a lot of things up there.
On building off his career game at the Music City Bowl
I’m just trying to help the team any way I can and be a role player and doing what I need to do for Vanderbilt to win, and just playing consistently. It’s being a teammate and being of value to my teammates.
On whether he’ll continue seeing time on special teams
Definitely. The coaches already told me regardless of the wide receiver position, they’re going to keep me on special teams, especially on kickoff. I like kickoff, it’s fun. Special teams is a big deal, it’s actually how we won the bowl game. I wouldn’t want to be off kickoff anyways.
On his biggest assets on the field
Awareness and playing hard and knowing what I have to do. I want my teammates to trust me, to trust that I’m going to do the job right, every time. There’s no slacking, I’m not going to take off any plays.
On the depth of the receiving corps
We have a lot physically. But mentally, we have a lot of young players. We have a lot of upcoming sophomores that’ll be their first time playing. But I know that we’ll prepare them, so I’m pretty sure they’ll be able to execute as the coaches want.
Coach Johnson? (laughs) He likes to talk and likes to make a lot of jokes. He’s very comical. I guess they can’t tell from the sideline, because he’ll stand there and show no emotion, I promise you. In the locker room he’s always really funny.
On the improvement of the special teams for 2009
Should be. Last year was basically our first year with the scheme that we were doing. We started the year with a new scheme for almost every special team. We really didn’t start seeing it working until maybe the fourth game. We just started making plays, fumbles, tackling, getting yards on a punt return. Mostly everyone on the special teams was young, but they’re all coming back, and we have a lot of freshmen that should get some playing time.