Rick Rumph Follows Path to Success at WVU - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Rick Rumph Follows Path to Success at WVU


sThe path to West Virginia University is not always an easy one for a scholarship football player. Sometimes those country roads can get rough along the way, but Rick Rumph is certain that he is where he belongs.

The freshman cornerback, who didn't sign with the Mountaineers until late June, was making other plans just a few months ago. He signed at Division II Catawba College initially, but then withdrew, deciding that succeeding in junior college and then trying to make it to D-I was the better route to pursue.

Rumph had not paid close enough attention to his studies at Mainland (Fla.) High School and when he failed to achieve a qualifying score on his ACT, all that he had worked for in football looked like it was fading away. But when he took the test again, and this time got the score he needed, he found his way to Morgantown.

"It's just my mindset," says Rumph. "My coach always told me never settle for anything less. Whatever you think you are, then that's what you are. That's what I believed. I felt like I was a good player."

That faith in himself led Rumph to spend lunch hours with teachers, counselors and coaches scouring through textbooks and finishing homework assignments that may otherwise have been put off. He learned a better way to stay on top of his class work that he hopes has prepared him for being a college student.

"That's what got me where I am now," he says. "So now I've got the correct study habits to know do it right the first time and do all the extra tutoring you can get so you won't be in the situation I was in."

The situation he is in on the field is quite a good one. In just two weeks of camp, Rumph has pushed his way up the depth chart to the point where he is now running with the second-team defense.

Under the watchful eye of cornerbacks coach Daron Roberts, he thrives in a game that he only just picked up in his junior season of high school after giving up his dream of basketball. Whatever he has in him that gave him the skills to compete at college football's highest level, his coach is taking note.

"If you watch him on tape, you watch him in meeting rooms, everything about his demeanor says that he wants to come in and contribute early," says Roberts. "I feel like he at least earned the opportunity to show himself on the field, so he's been running with the twos."

Maybe it has something to do with the uphill battle he fought to get where he is. Perhaps the roadblocks he faced along the way surpassed anything that he may find himself up against when he gets in his stance and stares down a WVU receiver.

Whatever is pushing Rumph has pushed him right past some of his more veteran teammates, though he will be the first person to tell you that without their help, he never would have made the early impact that he has.

Rumph takes their instruction, based on their experiences, mixes it with his own athleticism and his own work ethic and then applies it on the field.

"I think he's a naturally driven person. He has a lot of pride," says Roberts. "He takes a lot of pride in putting a good product on the field and that shows with his film study and the discipline that he shows, if it's in the weight room or even with meals and getting treatment."

Rumph, along with fellow freshman Nana Kyeremeh, are currently the next set of cornerbacks to get between the white lines after the starters. That youth could be a concern to many coaches, but Roberts says they have each shown enough to be trusted.

"They can be 12 years old or 21. I don't care. If they can cover the deep ball, then they're going to get a chance to play," says Roberts. "It hasn't been too big for them. I haven't seen big eyes when they come off to the sideline. Now, obviously there aren't 65,000 fans screaming, but what they've shown in practice, they've shown that they can handle a heavy load, so we're going to give it to them."

With Rumph, the biggest test may have already been passed – that ACT back in June. He is learning to get his academics in order and he continues to improve on the abilities that got him noticed in the first place. But after what he went through to get to West Virginia, the rest doesn't seem like work.

"My [high school] coach always tells me that God makes paths for everybody in different ways and I just feel like He made a hard path for me," says Rumph.

That path is leading him straight to Mountaineer Field and venues across the Big 12 in his freshman season, so long as he continues to follow it.

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