Tracking proCanes - Mike Rumph - Part I is continuing our “Tracking proCanes” feature with former University of Miami, San Francisco 49er, Washington Redskin and St. Louis Ram defensive back Mike Rumph. Rumph attended Atlantic Community High School in Delray Beach, Florida. He was among the SuperPrep National Top 50 players and was a SuperPrep All-American. Rumph was a productive player during his career at the University of Miami which culminated with a National Championship in his senior year. Rumph compiled 117 tackles (117 solo), 2 forced fumbles and 6 interceptions (returning one for a touchdown) during his time at Miami. He was a second team Big East selection his sophomore and senior years and a first team selection his junior year. Rumph was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in the 1st round of the 2002 NFL Draft, with the 27th overall selection. He was originally a cornerback, but the 49ers switched him to safety. He missed large parts of the 2004 and 2005 seasons due to injuries. On August 14, 2006, Rumph was traded to the Redskins for wide receiver Taylor Jacobs. On December 27, 2006 the Redskins waived him. Rumph was signed to the St. Louis Rams on March 20, 2007, but was released on August 3, 2007. He retired in July 2008.

Part I: Rumph talks about what he is up to since he retied from the NFL, his mentoring of current Hurricane DeMarcus Van Dyke, How he got recruited to play at Miami, and what his playing days at Miami were like.

proCanes: So I guess let’s first let fan know what you’ve been up to since you retired from the NFL.
Mike Rumph: I’ve been teaching football in kids’ camps and I was also running a private store but I just closed it.

When I first got out of the NFL one of the toughest things was the fear of what I was going to do next and I always wanted to do what I love, I always had dogs, I always loved dogs so I got a puppy store for my wife and I. I always loved training I was always amazed at how the body works and how everything moves on the body, the movement of the body, I was always amazed at that as a kid. I think that’s why I enjoy training kids so much because I understand being that I’ve been to the NFL and college, I understand my body more. It’s just so important to keep its shape for longevity. One thing people know about me is they know if I know it, you know it. I’m going to teach you what I know and just being around me I think the kids have an edge because they get to learn from my mistakes. Most people say they learn from their mistakes but the smart ones learn from other people’s mistakes. That’s what I try to do with the kids here. I Play Fast, that’s my company where I train my kids. I have my Mike Rumph camp that I do once or twice a year and my Le Chic puppies was my store for almost two years that I recently closed. We haven’t decided on relocating anything yet, I’m just going keep on with trying to do commentating and getting into coaching and continuing with my training.

pC: Would you like to get into official coaching maybe be graduate assistant at a college or do you like teaching younger kids better?
MR: I would love to work with college kids and be a college coach. I know it’s time consuming but anything is time consuming if you really want to do it. At night when I go to sleep I think about football, I’m thinking about plays, I’m thinking about defenses, I’m always watching the NFL on TV any kind of football I watch it. I think I’m a really good coach because I am able to explain and help kids relate to what I’m talking about so, I could be a great coach. In a perfect world I would be a high school head coach, but I would love to coach at a college level, or even the NFL.

pC: Right now what are the ages you coach?
MR: I coach ages eight up until pretty much college right now. Eight to like DeMarcus’ [Van Dyke] age who is 20. That’s kind of the age group that I’ve worked with.

pC: So I guess talk a little bit about how you came to start coaching DeMarcus?
MR: Because he wore the #8 I always watched him and because I wore #8 when he saw me, we always had some sort of conversation. I think when he came down in the spring I got a chance to talk to him a little bit and when they came to my Mike Rump camp in 2009 in Boyton Beach they had a bunch of the University of Miami players come out and my community opened their hands and the players really came and opened their hands and did a good thing for my community and I never forgot that and I told DeMarcus “if you want to work, you can always come to me to get some work done, I’m always up for that.” So, I think he kept that in mind and we stayed in touch talking and the part that impressed me the most about him was the day after the game in Orlando against Wisconsin he called me up and said as soon as he got back he wanted to work. That to me says a lot about his character. He’s not willing to take a break, he’s ready to get out there and get better so with that said I knew I could do something with him.

pC: What do you see in DeMarcus? Strengths? Weaknesses?
MR: I see a lot of me in him. He has to get that confidence and that comes with games DeMarcus hasn’t played as much as [Sam] Shields and the other corner Brandon [Harris] did. So I think he needs more reps and that will come now that he’s a senior. Those guys, Sheilds he’s a senior, and Brandon is an outstanding young player but I think that once DeMarcus gets some more reps he can turn out to be a really a top player in the ACC. What I see in him, he’s just like me. He’s a lanky guy, he can be physical, he’s a really fast and quick guy for his size. I see a great tackler. That’s a forgotten skill, the tackling, and he’s got really good ball skills. He can catch the ball really well. On the negative side, I think he just has to be confident when he gets out there and I think that comes with more reps like just playing the ball and running with the receiver. He has to get confident enough to turn around and find the ball. He could have had a couple more interceptions if he would have just done that alone, so he just has to get the confidence in himself and once you get that you might not be the best athlete but once you’re confident you understand what’s going on and it makes the game slow down a lot for you.

pC: At what age did you start playing? Were you always on defense?
MR: I started playing football at 8 years old and I was on offense. I played tightend and then I stopped football for a little while and I played baseball, basketball and I did a little track and I didn’t come back [to football] till I was 14. I kind of feel like sometimes that’s good for a young guy because playing every single year takes a toll on your body if you’re playing from eight until your 29 years old your body is going to be tired of football and I know guys who have actually done that, but I took a break so I played from 14 to 28. When I was 14 I was a real physical player. I would run it a lot and I was really competitive. I hated to lose. Where I’m from, if you don’t play football you’re nobody. So it was just something to do and what helped me excel at football was being a good listener and being a really hard worker. I had guys that wanted the skip practice and guys that didn’t want to go to school but I was the one that said look I’m going to go to school I’m not going to miss class and to this day I have guys come to me and say I should have gone to practice or I shouldn’t have skipped school so it made me feel good that I was able to make those decisions at a young age. The best thing I did I was able to surround myself with good people. I lost a lot of friends at a young age because I couldn’t’ walk the same path they walked at a young age so it helped me steer clear of it because I was always with somebody who could study, I was always with somebody who loved to practice, I was always with somebody who liked going to the movies on the weekends versus hanging out in the streets. So it helped me walk the clear path and I set goal at a young age also. I think those things helped me get through.

Another thing is I knew my counselor while I was in school. A lot of kids don’t know who their guidance counselor is so they don’t know where they need to get to and what goals they need to set to get there . If you notice I made DeMarcus write down his goals. That’s what he gave me in the paper. The first thing he gave me is his goals and that’s so important because you know the mind can be tricky. If you tell your mind you want to do something and everyday you see what you want to do, most likely that’s going to happen. So that’s why I had him set goals and I was setting goals while I was in high school because I knew where I wanted to get to and it paid off for me. Me getting into the NFL was easy, it wasn’t that hard. And I could tell kids all the time it’s not really that hard. You know, I was blessed and I’m a phenomenal athlete that’s from my dad and from my mom. I’ve got a strong heart that can’t be coached but I think that it wasn’t a hard route I just had to really stay my course and I was blessed to go to UM, [University of Miami] that God gave me the decision to go to the University of Miami when they just came off of probation so when I got there I aligned myself with some of the best athletes in the world and look at us now.

pC: So in high school were you defensive back and you were recruited as a DB?
MR: Yeah when I was in high school I played safety up until my junior year. My senior year I played safety and receiver and I was recruited as the best safety in Florida when I came out in 1998 and the second best free safety in the country next to Chris Holden. The day that I got to UM they were like let’s try you as a corner, and I was like okay and I stuck to corner ever since. I was always a safety man and I moved to corner and they liked it because I was big and I could move pretty quick so I stuck with it and I always liked corner personally because it was a challenge. Safety is where my heart was set and I knew I could be a great safety and even in the NFL they never let me reap my potential as a safety, but as a corner it was a great challenge for me and I feel I was on my way to becoming a great corner too.

pC: Who was the coach that recruited you from UM?
MR: Butch Davis.

pC: So it wasn’t the position coach back then, Pagano?
MR: Yeah Pagano, that’s good! You’ve got your history down! Chuck’s another guy man. I’ve just been surrounded with such good coaches. He used to bring us to his house. He used to live down here and he would bring us to his house and cook us BBQs just stuff for us to be together. Just the DB’s and that stuff you don’t get anymore man. That’s so important and people miss out on that because I think having that group camaraderie is so important. You’re always going to have one or two weirdos, but if you are always around each other hanging out, you know, I KNOW YOU, we know each other. If they don’t hang out, if guys just meet on the practice field, this guy might have a serious problem and we don’t know about it but if we’re hanging out, I know that he can’t have two drinks because he gets so lit up because we know each other. I think that’s what made it so good that we hung out together.

pC: What other schools were offering you scholarships?
MR: A lot of them! FSU and Ohio State were coming at me till the end but I had Michigan. Michigan wanted me as a receiver and corner. Louisville also, most of the east coast schools. The Florida Gators. They came in the beginning and kind of toned it down in the end.

pC: Who did it come down to in the end?
MR: In my head it was always Miami, but I wanted to go to my visits and I went up to visit Ohio State and they got this rumor that I was going to Ohio State. People were like ‘hey Mike heard you going to Ohio.’ At that point, I said no more visits. That’s it. It cut me short, but I wanted to be loyal to UM and I didn’t want that rumor to start getting out so I only visited Ohio State, which was a great visit. I told John Cooper that its too cold man, that’s too cold, I couldn’t do it.

pC: Who was your favorite team growing up?
MR: I’m a Palm Beach guy, but I was with the Dolphins.

pC: Favorite Player?
MR: Ronnie Lott when I was younger. When I got older, Deion [Sanders]. Yeah, I always liked Deion.

pC: Were you a Hurricane fan growing up?
MR: I was a Hurricane fan. When I was young I kind of liked Florida State but as I got older once the 90’s hit and I saw UM and it was something about how they came in the field. UM had swagger in the 90’s and it was just amazing to see an athletic guy with such confidence in himself just flying around the ball. You know the offense was wide open, deep balls and the defense was real tough and intimidating. They looked good in their uniforms and that captivated me because I looked at myself as a really tough player and that would be it. Tony Gaiter, he was a receiver for UM, and his cousin was my best friend so I met Tony a lot and I went to my first UM game because of him so my first few games I went to because of him and I was just mesmerized because that’s where I wanted to go.

pC: You came at a tough time to “The U” because it was right after probation and we weren’t very good in ’97.
MR: 1998 was my first year. 1997 was the last year we were on probation and we got all our scholarships back. That documentary “The U,’ that ended right where we started at that’s exactly where I started where that show ended. That’s’ when we said we had all our coaches back and we had 22 recruits that year.

pC: Was it tough coming knowing that things were down for a few years. Were people asking you ‘why are you going to Miami?’
MR: It was like that but I looked at it as an opportunity because to me they didn’t have a lot of safeties. Honestly Ed Reed when I first saw him in practice, I thought I’m taking his position, but by his sophomore year I don’t know if he made a deal with God or what and I’m not saying he was terrible, he was always good and he was always a ball hawk and knows the game real well and very good ball skills. He became that great player right after that Penn State game because Coach Schiano got on him hard after that. After that he just turned it on and I just came in because I thought that it was a great opportunity for me to play and get a degree. My plan when I came to UM was: I just want to get a degree and play special teams and that’s what my goals were. My first year, my first game I get in with East Carolina and I cause a fumble and after that, my freshman year, I played a lot. We only had four freshmen playing; the kicker, myself, Chris Campbell, and I think Sheven Marshall. So, everyone was sitting at home on the weekends when we was going on trips so I was like really, I set my goals lower than I should have and I was really shocked because I didn’t think I was going to play THAT much and I ended up playing a good amount of games. The only game I didn’t play my freshmen year was Syracuse when we lost 66 – 13. The worst loss I ever had in my life. I didn’t play special teams I didn’t play defense, thank god.

pC: What would you say is the toughest part about playing at UM?
MR: It’s hard man. I mean it was tough all around. I think the toughest part was probably the discipline, disciplining yourself, when you get to college. You don’t have mom and dad telling you what to do and you’ve got to get up on your own and you’ve got six o’clock runs and there come times in practice and you’re really sore and you don’t know how you’re going to make it through the next practice. I think it’s just overall the self discipline and to be able to say, I didn’t do this well in practice today so let me stay 30 more minutes to go over this again. I think that kind of stuff, that type of discipline, is what was tough to have at a young age. You just feel like at 18 years old that what the coach was asking you to do was good enough and that was it, but I was smart enough to know that was not enough I had to do more than that to be better than these guys. So the discipline to push yourself more than everybody else was that was what was hardest.

pC: You had an interesting career because you came when we were down and left when we were at the top. What would you say was your favorite memory? Was it reaching that pinnacle or was it the road to it because you were one of the guys that helped bring the program back, let’s face it.
MR: Definitely the road back, the road to the Championship was the best. Because you have to understand that you’ve got to get 105 guys on one goal and that’s to win. That’s so hard when you got so many guys coming from all over the country. We had guys from Canada on our team!

We’ve got five Canadians on our team and then we’ve got five guys from Liberty City where they getting along in order to win the game. That’s tough and I credit those coaches man because Butch Davis did a great job of changing it around. He’s a great recruiter he’s a great guy if you give him some talent, he’s a great disciplinarian. Butch Davis is that guy where uh, oh, here comes Davis, you know? Coach Coker was a great coach, great offensive coordinator, a great motivator, but he was like me and you were the same so it’d be like “hey Coach!” You’d get coach Coker like this (Rumph giving the motion of a nooggie). You could noogie coach Coker but coach Davis, you don’t even want to look him in the eye. You’d be like yes sir, no sir, but that was the difference we needed. Randy Shannon I think is really good. He is the same as Davis. He’s really good with the guys. You’ve got a bunch of knuckleheads, you need someone that’s a real disciplinarian and Coach Shannon, he’s that guy and he understands what a lot of guys feel and what they’re going through, so in that aspect he can relate.

I came when Davis was kind of shaky man but I can honestly say I saw it all come together. It started with recruiting. It started with the off season when we would play all together and how we pulled each other through and we’d fight amongst ourselves. If a guy is jumping off sides a lot, literally a guy would come over and whip his butt in practice, they’d get on him they’d [Nate] Webster him, and they’d choke him and they might hit him in the stomach and say you need to get that shit right. What are you going to do after that? Me as a freshman, I was like I’m never going to mess up because I don’t want that. [Laughter] That’s what we had and is what I think this younger team is going to have next year. You’ve got to have that senior leadership to show how things should be done. That goes from how to practice, how to prepare for the game, how to conduct yourself in Coconut Grove. All that has to be taught, but you’ve got a bunch of freshman that don’t understand that it’s going to be tough to win games. I think once you get that senior leadership that’s when we start losing less games, going to more bowls and hopefully win a championship again.

pC: You hear a lot that you need that camaraderie to win. I mean the 2000 team should have been playing for the National Championship and the 2001 team did, I mean how close were those teams? Was the ‘01 team one big happy family.
MR: The ‘02 team should have one too. We were’ one big happy family, but we had that knuckle head in the family. We had that one black sheep in the family, we had momma, we had daddy we had all that and when there was a problem we addressed it with each other and with the coaches and we handled it amongst ourselves I just cant explain it. I mean even when we hung out and we went out together and if something happened to one of us we always got involved and always stood up for our guys. Like I said, that hanging out together stuff makes you a lot better on the field because you know what you’re dealing with, you know the psychology of your buddy.

pC: What games from your UM days stand out?
MR: Every game against West Virginia stood out for me because I had my best games against Mark Bulger and I played against him when I was with the 49ers and I played with him when I was with the Rams. But, he threw me up all my interceptions and they [West Virginia] always had a lot of talent because they recruit down here a lot and that was some of my best games. Penn State because it was my sophomore year and it was a hard loss to swallow for me because I got beat for the winning touchdown and we could have beat one of the best teams in the country but I grew a lot that night because I had to really understand that it happens to the best of us. I got to talk to a guy that works with Deion a lot and said ‘Deion even gets beat’ and that really touched me. I was like you know he’s right he does get beat. Everybody gets beat sometimes but I grew strides that night because I remember that next day I came back with a vengeance because I didn’t want that to happen again. And that’s when I became the player that I am today, after that game I mean that game changed me.

pC: What would you say was the toughest place to play because the people that I’ve always talked to have said West Virginia.
MR: Definitely. It’s just real hostile. It’s in the middle of nowhere. It reminds you of Deliverance. When you pull up on a that little hill you could hear that banjo playing in the background [Laughter] and with the old story that Coach Shannon had a little incident with that trash can. We had to keep our helmet on that whole game and it was just idiotic stuff. The old ladies are shooting middle fingers. It’s just a whole other atmosphere, but they really support their program up there and they always have some tremendous athletes and that’s what makes West Virginia a tough team and they take special teams as serious as we did back then. I say that because UM, that’s another thing we were so serious about, special teams. When I played that’s how we won a lot. We were going to have a blocked kick we were going to have a kick return we were going to have something, but Butch Davis really believed in special teams and to this day that’s how I am too and Joe Gibbs is like that also. West Virginia, they brought their special teams to play. We knew it was a big game. It was always a big rivalry but we knew it was tough to play those guys because of all those things.

pC: So Florida State wasn’t as bad or even Syracuse because it was loud?
MR: Syracuse is the loudest because of the dome. My freshman year they put microphones in the crowd to really amplify that noise when we lost 66-13, it was the loudest I’ve heard. Virginia Tech got loud my senior year when they blocked that punt the game before the rose bowl. They blocked that punt that last game of the season, my ears about to burst when they blocked that punt so it got really loud and it could be hostile too. Even Boston College, they have the stands right over you and they got the guys standing right on top of us. I got some funny stories out from Boston but the most hostile West Virginia, the loudest Syracuse. I mean Florida State is Florida State you just got to get used to all that chop music. The week before we played them they’re playing it on the loudspeaker all week until you just hate it you and about to go crazy.

pC: You went up everyday in practice against all-pro NFL receiver like Reggie Wayne and Santana Moss. Who was the toughest receiver you had to go up against in practice?
MR: Reggie Wayne and Santana Moss were really tough receivers to guard in practice. But they both had their negatives and positives. Andre Johnson goes under that category too. Andre was just a younger guy but Andre, his size alone was really tough to deal with because he was just as fast as Reggie and Santana but bigger than them. But Reggie Wayne was always a great route runner has great hands and he’s a really good blocker and people don’t understand how important that is. Santana was outrageously quick, outrageously fast, good hands, he had to learn to run his routes right. Santana was so fast that they told him to slow down to run his routes. They told him you’re too fast, it’s not going to work when you’re going that fast so he had to learn to run the routes a little slower and that’s when he became a good receiver. But Andre overall, blocking, being a big body to get around to get to the ball. It was a little tougher so I had to really change up my play with him but it was really good because you get Santana real quick and then you get the big guy. Practice was really competitive and really what made us good. Games were easy. When we went against Washington, when we went against Reggie Williams that was a cake-walk, this guy was not better than Reggie Wayne so we held him to no catches.

pC: So you would say Andre Johnson was the toughest?
MR: Yeah. And I thank those guys till this day because they made me the player that I am . When those scouts came to watch those guys that’s how I got noticed because I was doing a good job of guarding them.

pC: Who would you way was the best player on the team?
MR: I would go with Ed Reed because between him and Dorsey I would say they’re two of the smartest players I’ve ever played with. He just knows the game and sometimes he’s in the place where you don’t know what he’s doing in that place but he’s there and he makes the play. That’s the kind of thing that made me say he’s the best player and he did that on a consistent basis. It wasn’t just like once in a blue moon, he was consistently making plays and that’s what made him so good. Overall on the team there were a lot of guys just as good as Ed but if I had to pick one I would pick him.

pC: How was he personally?
MR: When we was younger he liked to go out and like to hang out and we just did some silly shit and we hung together a lot and did a lot of crazy stuff, but he kind of changed his life and slowed it down. I think him being under the Ray Lewis’ mentor and going to Baltimore, which was such a veteran team that honed him to even a better player. It wasn’t just a team about partying and acting crazy, it was about winning and he was like that too and I think that made him even more like that. He slowed down a lot man, he’s a man of God and he doesn’t hang out as much and you don’t see him in the news and I think that says a lot about him.

pC: Who would you say was your best friend?
MR: Howard Clark, linebacker from New Jersey, my roommate. Brent Scott he was a walk on. Phillip Buchanan, me and him were roommates for every home and away game. James Lewis. Marquis Fitzgerald. Everyone who was in the secondary.

pC: Do you keep in contact with guys?
I bump into Marquis sometimes. Phillip Buchanon on Facebook. James Lewis, I haven’t talked to him in years. Howard I talk to him like every 8 months or so. I talked to Willie Joseph today. He lives by me.

pC: How about Mo Sikes?
MR: Yeah he’s a police officer. His daughter goes to school with my son. I see him everyday. Delvin Brown. You know he’s a police on South Beach.

Click here to read Part II of our exclusive interview with Mike Rumph and read what he has to say about Coach Davis and Coke, the NFL, Terrell Owens and much more!

Click here to order Mike Rumph’s proCane Rookie Card.

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