Stephane N’goumou was Randy Moss without the resume. Check that, he was Moss without a hint of a resume.
As a freshman at Wootton (Md.) High School, he skipped practices and showed an attitude that basically said he didn’t care.
“It was all about me,” N’goumou told the Washington Post, reflecting on his freshman season. “I didn’t really understand the meaning of being part of a team. I was always by myself, doing my own thing.”
In the fall of his sophomore year, N’goumou was academically ineligible to play football. Instead of drifting away, the absence of the sport showed N’goumou (pronounced GOO-moo) how much he missed it.
Wootton basketball coach Chris Bohlen gave N’goumou a boost.
“He talked to me a lot about the way I should act, because people never really told me how bad my attitude was,” N’goumou told the Post. “He really pulled me aside and told me to calm down more and be part of the team more.”
When N’goumou showed up for football as a junior, coach Greg Malling remembered his freshman malaise and buried him on the depth chart. That just made N’goumou, a 6-4, 200-pound wide receiver, hungier.
“The first week of practice, I wanted to work hard to move up the chart,” he said. “And it kind of felt good when I was moving up and my work was rewarded.”
As a fully engaged senior, N’goumou caught 71 passes for 1,060 yards and nine TDs. He was also the team captain.
Of course, Iowa coaches had to examine N’goumou’s character during his visit on the last weekend in January. Coach Kirk Ferentz came away satisfied and offered a scholarship that N’goumou immediately snapped up.
“He’s a guy we have talked about for quite some time,” Ferentz said. “We were impressed with his athleticism. We wanted to see things more so academically and get some indicators that he really was committing himself to being serious about school.
“One thing in recruiting that you run into are prospects that don’t understand doing the work they need to do. Sometimes they figure it out too late. One thing you have to do is see some indicators and that’s what we wanted to see before making a formal offer. We held off on him for that reason. After we saw some indicators that let us know he was serious and capable, we wanted to spend some time and visit with him and that put us over the hump on his visit.
“He did a good job with the guys on our team and that convinced us that it was a good fit.”