It was July 23, 2013 and his phone remained silent.
Unsure of his NFL future
Undrafted out of Monmouth University, Gumbs split time between the New Orleans Saints and Kansas City Chiefs last season, stashed away on the practice squad.
An imposing physical specimen for his position, this safety was best known for his ability to seek out special teams plays, blocking five kicks during his collegiate career.
But unlike college football powerhouses like the University of Alabama and the University of Texas, Monmouth was far from a NFL factory.
This resulted in most fringe NFL talent being passed over.
Waiting for his number to be called, Gumbs did the only thing he could—maintaining his body in football shape.
Determined to grab his next chance by the horns, Gumbs spent countless hours in the weight room and on the football field making sure that when he signed, conditioning would be a non-issue.
“I was working out almost every single day,” Gumbs recalled. “Actually, I stopped working out two days before they called me for a little bit because I started to get a little irritation in my hamstring.”
Then, after the conclusion of the first day of NFL training camp, he got the call from the Washington Redskins. Twelve hours later, he was in Richmond ready to prove to his new team he could contribute, no matter the role.
“Just imagine somebody calling you for work and you don’t know what you’ve got to do and just throwing you out there. That’s how it was,” Gumbs said of the whirlwind behind his signing and subsequent arrival to training camp.
Admitting that it was a difficult first week trying to balance learning terminology of both the defensive and special teams units along with impressing individually, Gumbs said he was just happy that he was on a roster.
“It’s football, but at the same time you’ve got to learn the scheme so I’m second guessing myself like ‘should I do this, should I do that’ but it was cool,” Gums said. “I’m obviously glad they brought me in.
“I said I’d rather be there not knowing what I’m doing than being home not doing nothing at all. I was able to learn little by little and catch up.”
A common misconception, Gumbs feared that some would discredit his late signing as more of training camp body and filler spot than serious threat for the final 53-man roster.
"When I came in, I knew a lot of people were saying, 'He's (just) a camp body,'" Gumbs said. "I was like, 'Come on. You're telling me I have no hope?' I'm just going to go out there and showcase what I can do.”
Gumbs didn’t find his way onto the roster through hope. He claimed a spot through his performance on the field, mainly special teams.
Fast-forward nearly two months after the conclusion of training camp and Gumbs is constant contributor on special teams.
As he continues to assert himself and expands his role though, he’s hoping to become more than just “another guy.”
Sunday’s bone-crushing hit on Chicago Bears returner Eric Weems was a start.
After Roy Helu Jr.’s second touchdown scamper of the day, the Redskins held a seven-point lead halfway through the third quarter. Kicker
What happed next was perhaps the best special teams play of the year, in a season where the unit has struggled to both contain opponents and provide the offense quality field position.
The Bears switched return great Devin Hester with Weems in hopes of catching the Redskins off-guard, tempting them to kick short to avoid the record-setter.
The attempted one-up move was sniffed out.
Reaching his own 11-yard line, Weems was met by a full-speed Jose Gumbs, who heeded special teams coordinator Keith Burn’s advice earlier in the week to swarm the ball.
“They kicked it off short to the other side and they let me free and the moment I saw him he kind of slowed down on me and I was like, ‘Wait he’s coming to me’ and here you go—you’re either going to make this hit or you’re not,” Gumbs said. “So I just went for it.
“You’re not playing defense or offense so nobody knows you. You’ve got to make something happen.”
His takedown gave the Bears their worst starting field position of the game. The repercussions however, extend far beyond one play.
In a seasoned marred by disappointing unit play, Gumbs hopes that his tackle showcased himself enough that it will lead to more opportunities to his forte: blocking kicks.
Before that happens though, he’s determined to put in the necessary work during practices and his down time at further his impact.
“I hope they start throwing me out there and having me block some kicks,” Gumbs said. “Like I said before, they’ve got to first trust me and see what I can do and I don’t think I’ve showed it yet so we’ll see when that happens.
“I’m watching film and making sure that I bring that intensity last week even though we gave up that one punt return touchdown I feel like as a whole we came out together and had this new thing going on where everybody’s going to the ball and we were actually hyped compared to past weeks. We were all playing together.”