Rumph Excelling at Safety for WVU - WVU Football, WVU Basketball, News - Mountaineer Sports

Rumph Excelling at Safety for WVU


Brian Mitchell took two hits to his cornerback depth this past week, one due to injury and the other by design. Losing Nana Kyeremeh to season-ending shoulder surgery can't be viewed as a positive, but losing Ricky Rumph to the safety position may ultimately prove beneficial to the Mountaineers.

Rumph, a sophomore, made the switch to bandit safety early in the week as the coaching staff continues to search for depth across the board in the secondary. Initially, Mitchell sent Ishmael Banks to safeties coach Tony Gibson, but that experiment didn't work out and Rumph was the next choice.

"He's really working out well right now," Gibson says of Rumph. "[I] Like what he's doing – he can run well, he's got good cover skills, so he's definitely a guy who can play nickel and then also I like him on the half."

For Rumph, the move presents new challenges, but also opportunities. He is currently running with the second team in WVU's nickel package, bringing a fifth defensive back onto the field. He works behind fellow sophomore K.J. Dillon in that role while serving as a reserve to senior bandit safety Darwin Cook.

"I'm all about competing and it's going to make the starter better who has the position already," says Rumph. "Me looking up to Cook, he's been here, he's played. He's got good experience. I'm competing with him. He's helping me get better and I'm helping him get better."

The biggest difference, he says, is the more physical nature of his new position. Rumph had worked to trim down when Mitchell took over the cornerbacks job, but now he'd like to have some of that weight on his frame to play safety. At 185 pounds now, Rumph wants to push himself to anywhere between 190 and 195 pounds.

As far as playing the position, the transition isn't astronomical. Rumph only just started playing football late in his high school career when he realized his lack of height would keep him from his dreams of starring on the basketball court. His familiarity with the cornerback position isn't so much that it will be tough to learn something new.

He's still an open book when it comes to football.

"It still shocks me that I'm actually playing football and when you first play football, the position you probably want to play is running back or receiver," Rumph says. "My first position I played was cornerback and with me moving to safety, it still kind of surprised me."

His size and speed and the athletic ability are not in question when Rumph gets on the field. He has to learn to be more confident in what he does on each play and feel more comfortable with the defense West Virginia runs, but his coaches believe he has the wherewithal to make those strides quickly.

"Ricky has proven that he has great football IQ," says Mitchell. "He's done a tremendous job of learning what the safeties have done. We've asked more of him in another role on third down in our nickel package being a back-up guy there."

Rumph didn't anticipate starting out his sophomore camp with a position change. It came as a surprise, but he's running with it and embracing it, knowing his coaches made the move to give him a chance. He will tell you that whatever move he's asked to make, he will do it if it benefits the team.

This is the first, and the plan is to make it the last. At safety, and now with a year under his belt, Rumph is ready to lead the defense in making calls from the secondary and putting his teammates in position to stop whatever the offense is throwing their way.

"I'm more of a vocal leader but I didn't really have much say-so [last year] with me being a freshman, at least I felt like I didn't," says Rumph. "Being a leader, that's just something that I embrace, so with me taking on that leadership role and responsibilities, it's good for me." 

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