East Orange football star Elijah Shumate realizes NFL dream

East Orange native and Univ. of Notre Dame safety signs with Tampa Bay Buccaneers

FOOT-EO Elijah ShumateEAST ORANGE – Ever since he was a little boy growing up in East Orange, Elijah Shumate had a dream to make it to the National Football League.

Shumate saw that dream become a reality when he was signed by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as an undrafted free agent two weekends ago.

“It has been a blessing through all of this coming out of East Orange,” said Shumate, a safety from the University of Notre Dame. “I always knew I would get here but didn’t realize that I was so close until now and how I am actually here now. I’m excited and ready.”

Before taking the field with the Bucs, Shumate still has one more major accomplishment to achieve: to graduate college.

“Notre Dame has been a blessing as well,” said the safety, who will graduate May 15. “I’m graduating on the 15th of May from a university I could never image myself going to if it was not for football. But I’m so honored, my dad is excited, my family is extremely excited.”

Throughout his collegiate career that began with Shumate participating in the 2013 National Championship with his squad falling short to Alabama, Shumate certainly has many highlights over the course of the past four years.

“My favorite highlight and memories has to be first beating Michigan at home to end the historic tradition, but not only beating them but we shutting them out with me ending the game with no time left with a pick-six,” he said in a previously published article in The Record-Transcript. “My second was beating LSU after suffering that disgusting loss to Alabama my freshman year in the national championship. It was great experience as a freshman being able to play in a game like that, but as a competitor it left a hole in my heart that was only going to be filled by proving people wrong and beating an SEC team.”

In Shumate’s senior year, he started 12 of 13 games, making 70 tackles, 6.5 for loss, intercepting one pass and breaking up two others in a solid season for the Irish.

“I’m just ready to do what a lot of kids wish they can do in my city but don’t get the opportunity and that’s play in the NFL,” he said. “The city is behind me and I’m doing it for everyone who’s watched me grind and supported me and all the future stars to be out of Essex County as a whole.”

After his football career is over, Shumate could wind up coming back to the city he grew up in.

“I plan on going to the NFL. That been a dream of mine since I was 6, but I also want to work with inner-city kids and help change the environment to not only a comfortable environment but also a confident one, too. I want kids to feel they have the sources to put them in good standing with kids that are more fortunate,” said Shumate, who majored in Film, Theater and Television. “Some of my fondest memories growing up in East Orange was having everything I needed, within a matter of a few steps from my house; a park that I not only had fun in, but also help make me become the person I am today. Stemming from either competing on the court or even as little as talking to a girl, (I) just did not want to lose and that is one of the biggest character traits that I carried.”

Notably, Shumate, who attended Don Bosco Prep in Ramsey for high school, said his two biggest inspirations were his dad, Maurice, and the late great safety from the University of Miami and later the Washington Redskins, Sean Taylor.

“My inspirations were my dad and the famous Sean Taylor. My dad was my inspiration because throughout all the things he has been through and how hard it might have been for him, he helped teach me how to be a man and he did a pretty good job at it as well,” he said in a previous article. “As far as Sean Taylor, he exhibited everything I wanted to be in a safety. He was fast, strong, aggressive and played with a passion for the game that was far none.”