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THE GRIND: West Forsyth linebacker Jake Cummings proves he can't be taken lightly
West Forsyth junior linebacker Jake Cummings stands just 5 feet 6 inches but makes a much bigger impact for the Wolverines' defense. - photo by Bradley Wiseman

The Grind: Jake Cummings

By: Bradley Wiseman

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Jake Cummings probably isn't getting much bigger. There might be a couple more inches of height in his future, but the West Forsyth junior can look at his parents and tell that a massive growth spurt is unlikely. 

Cummings has been faced with the unlikely almost his entire football career, though. The junior is almost always the shortest player on the field, at a listed height of 5-foot-6, and he doesn't play running back or kick returner: He's an outside linebacker, often matching up with the biggest players on the field. 

"I think of it as a challenge," Cummings said. "I'm not always the biggest or the strongest, but I'm usually one of the quicker kids."

Quickness and agility are Cummings' specialities: He's also a wrestler, competing in the 145-pound weight class. He often faces competitors taller than him on the mat, and the same advantages he has in that sport – leverage and different angles to attack – benefit him in football as well, making him tougher to block. 

Cummings has played football since he was in kindergarten, and he was always one of the smaller players on the field. That was true when he started at West, but by his sophomore year, he was dressing out with the varsity squad. This year, he has 22 tackles including two for losses with an interception, a pass break-up and a blocked punt. 

Cummings does recognize that his size puts him at something of a disadvantage. He tries to counteract that by watching extra film, spending "a couple hours" on Hudl every week looking at alignments and how an opposing team's offensive line is positioned, which can hint towards the play that a team is about to run. 

All the effort that Cummings puts in is especially beneficial when his opponents slack off. His performance has provided plenty of evidence that he shouldn't be underestimated, but Cummings does stand out.

"They'll see me as a weak link on the field," Cummings said of his opponents. "I try and prove them wrong."