After being a walk-on for the Elon football team for the past three years, redshirt sophomore Julian Bumper was rewarded with an athletic scholarship — a moment the running back and wide receiver said he will never forget.
“For me, it just felt like a huge weight lifted off my shoulder. … I always liked working towards getting to the point where they didn't have to pay for school,” Bumper said. “For me as a player, I always knew that I had the ability to play at this level. I just needed the opportunity. And by God's grace, I was just given that opportunity.”
Head coach Tony Trisciani said he has seen the work Bumper put in over the years and believes this scholarship was well earned.
“He earned that and he's earned it his whole career, his whole body of work,” Trisciani said. “Everything he does is right, on and off the field. If we need somebody for community service, Julian Bumper is the first guy raising his hand, and he's out there going into the elementary schools and doing anything we need from him.”
Bumper thanks his parents for inspiring him to give his all. His parents Maria Bumper ’95 and Monty Bumper ’97 are both graduates of Elon. Maria said seeing her son work so hard at the school that she called home brings a tear to her eye.
“It’s awesome seeing him growing up, it was always like, ‘When you commit to something you give 100%. You don't quit, you show up every day,’” Maria said. “He never wavered. He'd show up for practice and support his teammates, so to see that paying off for him is great.”
Maria said she is happy to see her son has finally found a community here at Elon on the field and off the field. She said she is proud of the man he has become and enjoys seeing the relationships he builds in school. Outside of the football team, Julian is also an active member of Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
“In high school, he played football, he had his different groups that he hung out with. But Elon has so much more to offer. And to see him actually actively be involved in FCA. He's a member of Alpha Phi Alpha,” Maria said. “That's kind of cool for me, to just see him and brings the leadership opportunities on campus. It’s great as a parent to see that.”
Julian said he has built many relationships at Elon, but the one that has stuck by his side since stepping foot on campus is his teammate redshirt sophomore, Dylan Tucker.
“When I first came here, I think we already knew that we were going to have a close relationship because like in the group chat building up to being here,” Julian said. “He's probably going to be in my wedding in the future.”
Tucker said feels the same way as he enjoys all the time they spend together being roommates and he is so proud of Julian for earning the scholarship.
“He's probably my closest friend out here. So it brought a tear to my eye. I was really excited for him. He deserves it and he's been working a long time towards this,” Tucker said.
Monty, a former Elon basketball player, was a strong influence on his son as a father and as his coach starting from a young age.
“It was great. I mean, I've been coaching him since he was 6-years-old, so to see him achieve his goal, it was awesome, especially at our alma mater,” Monty said. “It was awesome because he worked so hard. And he always put in the work, and he never doubted himself. And it was awesome to watch.”
Monty said he was ecstatic to hear Julian had such a strong interest in going to Elon and wanted to go play at his father’s old school. While taking a tour for their oldest son who didn’t like the school as much, Julian felt differently.
“Julian looks at me while looking, he says, ‘No, I like it. It feels like college.’ And literally, like three years later, we sat down to start discussing schools. And he named out his schools. And when he said Elon, I was shocked.” Monty said. “Then he literally applied to the school. He says, ‘I don't care about getting the other one. Elon’s my number one.’”
Julian said he appreciates all the sacrifices his parents have made, and he has one message to share to his parents after receiving this opportunity.
“I just want to say, I thank y'all. I appreciate y'all for all the ideas from me, all the sacrifice, all the times bringing me to practice. Believing in me throughout my whole time here, understanding that eventually my time will come and believing that when I get the opportunity, I'll make the most of it. So I just want to say, thank you,” Julian said.
Julian played in his first game for the Elon football team on scholarship Aug. 31 against Wake Forest and he says he plans to build off the first game. Maria said seeing her son play for the team now on scholarship brings a different feeling compared to all the times she watched him when he didn’t have the scholarship.
“It's different. I wouldn't I mean, you know, we've been to as many games as we can, but, you know, I think he's prepared differently mentally,” Maria said. “He's always been a part of the team, but it's a different feeling.”
Bumper and the rest of the team will play its first home game Saturday, Sept. 16 against North Carolina A&T State University.