CORAL GABLES, Fla. — Georgia may have a tough time recruiting South Florida as well as it has in the past, and that’s not just because Mark Richt is now at Miami. It’s because Mike Rumph is at Miami with him.
You might recognize Mike Rumph’s name from his time as head coach at American Heritage High School. That’s where the Bulldogs found Sony Michel, Isaiah McKenzie and Marshall Morgan in recent years.
Obviously, Richt formed a strong relationship with Rumph when he was recruiting players for Georgia out of the private school located in Plantation, Fla., 30 miles north of the University of Miami. So naturally, Richt targeted Rumph and hired him as an assistant coach on his Hurricanes’ coaching. Rumph has been coaching cornerbacks since January.
“Early on (Richt) was recruiting Sony,” Rumph said. “The thing that hit me back then was Sony said, ‘Coach, he doesn’t pressure me. He just seems like a nice man. I want to go t the University of Georgia.’ And it just shocked me at the time. Later on, Isaiah told me the same thing. He said, ‘he’s like a father to me.’ I was like, ‘wow!’
“But now that I work with Coach Richt every day, I totally understand what he was talking about. His demeanor and his style of recruiting is different from anybody else.”
Stemming that outgoing tide is a big reason Richt hired Rumph. Keeping South Floridia’s finest athletes from leaving the area for faraway colleges has been a major point of emphasis for Richt since arriving at Miami. He spends two hours every Thursday visiting local parks to talk to youth about one day playing for the Hurricanes.
As for Rumph, he has some Miami ties of his own. He was a starting defensive back for the Canes in 2001-02 and earned a national championship ring before embarking on a four-year NFL career.
“It’s awesome to be back home and to be back here at a school at which I helped build a tradition,” Rumph said. “Now to be back and be able to build on that tradition as a coach is great.”
But Rumph continues to have a strong affection for the Georgia Bulldogs, especially with two of his own still donning the red and black. Rumph was one of the first to learn that Michel had suffered a major fracture in an ATV accident Fourth of July weekend outside of Atlanta. He remains close to Michel’s family, which still lives in South Florida.
“Well, kids are going to be kids, but I think Sony is unlike any other kid,” Rumph said. “He’s very mature and he always done things the right way. I’m sure it was a slip-up on his part and I know it’s something he’ll learn from. But I’m sure he’ll bounce back as well. He’s by far the hardest-working kid I’ve ever coached. So I know he’ll heal up fine and I know he can bounce back from it.”