Lum’s arm leads Mountain Hawks to BisonFARGO — The pronunciation of Chris Lum’s last name rhymes with mum, and that probably best describes the recruiting attention he got in high school in Michigan. Nobody heard much about him.
By: Jeff Kolpack, The Dickinson Press
FARGO — The pronunciation of Chris Lum’s last name rhymes with mum, and that probably best describes the recruiting attention he got in high school in Michigan. Nobody heard much about him.
They have now, of course. The Lehigh University (Pa.) quarterback is a finalist for the Walter Payton Award, which goes to the best offensive player in the Division I Football Championship Subdivision. He is the biggest reason the Mountain Hawks will take on North Dakota State on Saturday afternoon in the FCS quarterfinals.
How he got this far is a testament to the highs and lows of recruiting. In Lum’s case, he thought his college hopes were shattered when he broke his arm and dislocated his elbow in the second game of his senior year.
“They said I wouldn’t play the rest of the year and I was panicking and worried my college dreams might have just ended,” Lum said.
But he came back in the last week of the regular season and his team made it to regionals. He was being recruited by NCAA Division II schools in Michigan like Grand Valley State, Saginaw Valley State and Northwood when a coach from Lehigh stopped by the high school.
They convinced him to take a campus visit to the Bethlehem, Pa., school. He signed, but it still wasn’t a rapid rise to Walter Payton status.
“It was difficult moving far away from home, a new playbook, there was a lot to take in,” Lum said.
He didn’t win the starting quarterback job until last year. If last year’s 3,739 yards passing was a breakout year, this year’s 4,090 yards smashed all expectations.
“This guy is a cool operator in the pocket,” said NDSU head coach Craig Bohl. “He makes very few mistakes.”
He’s 6-foot-2 and 205 pounds, moves well and has the mental ability to get to his second, third or more options with his receivers, Bohl said. He had six touchdown passes against New Hampshire earlier in the season and threw for 413 yards against Fordham University.
Last week, in the second-round playoff game against Colonial Athletic Association champion Towson State, he tied a career high in completions, finishing 36 of 48 for 351 yards.
“It’s been a great experience this whole year,” Lum said. “I can’t ask for much more. We’re just riding the wave right now, staying focused each week and trying not to make this end soon.”
Kolpack is a sports reporter for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.