Most Recent Posts
- Swiss Cat Part 2: Larry continues his adventure in Switzerland
- Brumbaugh understands junior college talent, feels he can bring JUCO players to UK
- Volleyball training, personality will both help Marcus Lee at Kentucky
- UK coach Mark Stoops was patient with Neal Brown because he was “all-in” on hiring him
- UK signee Marcus Lee overcame early education struggles to succeed in academics, athletics
- No. 12 Kentucky and No. 5 Arizona State to start best-of-three NCAA Super Regional set Saturday at 10 p.m. ET
- Stoops: Hiring Neal Brown to run Kentucky offense was a “no-brainer for me”
- Nunley, Cumbess Propel No. 12 UK Softball to Super Regionals
By LARRY VAUGHT
ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s been a struggle for Donte Rumph to get to Kentucky, but Friday the South Carolina defensive lineman sounded like a native Kentuckian.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I am glad to be here. I am so excited. I am ready to get through camp and get back in football shape and take Louisville down on Sept. 4th,Ã¢â‚¬Â said Rumph on UKÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Media Day.
Rumph originally signed with Kentucky in 2008 after earning all-state honors when he had 107 tackles, including 14 quarterback sacks, his senior season. His size and strength along with his athleticism Ã¢â‚¬â€ he was on the basketball team that won three straight state titles and also played baseball Ã¢â‚¬â€ made him a major recruiting target.
However, Rumph had to go to Ford Union (Va.) Military Academy because he did not qualify academically. He ended up staying two years before finally learning a few weeks ago he had qualified to be eligible.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“There were some ups and downs. I had a lot of support from family, friends, coach (joker) Phillips and the entire coaching staff. They believed in me and kept my faith up and I stuck with them,Ã¢â‚¬Â Rumph said.
He said there were never times he broke down and cried the last two years, but he got close.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“At times I wanted to be by myself and not around anybody else. I would use that time to regain my focus and keep my head on straight and talk to the Lord. I just thank God I made it here,Ã¢â‚¬Â Rumph said.
His struggles to make it to Kentucky have given him a special perspective on just being on the team and able to compete in the Southeastern Conference that other teammates may not have.
Ã¢â‚¬ËœI think it would be fair to say I appreciate this opportunity more than most. I worked so hard for two years. I went through so much at Fork Union and for my family. Just the up and down of the whole trip. I think I do appreciate it more,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said.
With redshirt freshman defensive tackle Mister Cobble academically ineligible, RumphÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s presence is even more vital for UK even though he reported at 315 pounds Ã¢â‚¬â€ well over his anticipated playing weight.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Rumph comes in, in a position of need with us losing Cobble, so he comes in a position of needing experience.Ã‚Â I think we’ve got a lot of bodies at the defensive tackle.Ã‚Â I think the thing we need is some maturity there, and I think he’ll bring that maturity to that position,Ã¢â‚¬Â Phillips said.
Senior teammate Ricky Lumpkin, who joked that Rumph had such a strong grip that he nearly broke his hand shaking hands, warned that Rumph still will need time to adjust to SEC football after playing only a few prep games the last two years.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“It will be hard for him to adjust because it is hard for everybody. You are going from high school to practice, which is already a fast speed. He was at a prep school and now he is going to be playing SEC teams like Georgia, Tennessee and Florida,Ã¢â‚¬Â Lumpkin said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“The game speed is 10 times faster than practice. You can be an all-American in practice, but it all depends on what you do in the game.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I have a feeling he is going to be a great player. I am excited to see him play and practice and how he reacts and goes about working. I know he has talent.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Rumph knows heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not in football shape, something he expects strength coach Rock Oliver to help remedy.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I am not at all worried. I know I am going to work hard to get back in football shape. I am not going to let coach Phillips down. He worked so hard for me for three years. I am going to show my gratitude on the field,Ã¢â‚¬Â Rumph said.
He said he spent so much time concentrating on academic work he had to complete during the summer that sometimes it was difficult to do his football workouts.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I had to take a class from Kentucky and trying to balance my schedule between class and working out was pretty difficult. But I think I did pretty good there at home,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I ran some sprints and did drills in the workout book. It was hard. I was trying to concentrate on being eligible, but also trying to balance making sure I was in shape to play. It was just a lot of work. I dealt with it the best way I could.Ã¢â‚¬Â
He says his father, Dennis, and grandmother, Thelma, provided the extra inspiration he needed.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“They were there for me the whole way. My grandmother and my father were there at times I felt like quitting and wondering if this was for me or not. It was hard. They have always been there for me. I owe them so much, just like I do Kentucky and coach Phillips,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said.