athens - There are certain players on every team that seem to pique the curiously of fans more than others. One such player for the Georgia Bulldogs in Jonathan Rumph.
There’s plenty to capture one’s interest. Physically he looks like he’d have to be a fantastic athlete, standing every bit of his listed 6 feet, 5 inches and weighing in at a svelte 218 pounds. But since coming to Athens from Holmes (Miss.) Community College a year ago, Rumph hasn’t been able to translate the impressive presence into impressive production.
Quarterback Hutson Mason offered some clues as to the reasons for that in a recent conversation about the Bulldogs’ wideouts.
“Rumph is one of those guys you’ve got to pat on the back instead of getting onto him all the time, because he needs encouragement,” said Mason, a fifth-year senior slated to start this season. “But he’s got the skill set and I think he’s definitely a lot more comfortable in the offense this year than he was last year. Me and him really have that trust and it’s been taken to a new level from last year to this year.”
Mason intimated that Rumph’s knowledge of the playbook last season held him back. Rumph played in five games without any starts and finished with seven catches for 121 yards.
“Last year, I wasn’t really sure if he knew what was going on,” Mason said. “I would go back to throw and I’m just praying that he would run the right route. This year, I’ve seen him do it right over and over. And just talking with him about plays and schemes, he understands what’s going on with coverages and what we’re doing, so that gives me a lot of confidence.”
Rumph blames most of his setbacks on a chronic hamstring injury. He never completely recovered from a partial tear he suffered in preseason camp before last season.
Rumph said has adopted an intensive program of preventative maintenance to keep his hamstring issues at bay. Flexibility and speed coach Sherman Armstrong has him on a stretching regimen of 90 minutes a day that starts when Rumph gets up in the morning and ends before he goes to bed at night. He also has a certain amount of fluids he’s required to drink every day.
“I stayed here this whole summer and got stronger, more explosive and I feel like I’m moving better,” he said. “My hamstring is a whole lot better, just my whole body feels more flexible. I have a routine now and I feel like it’s helping a lot.”
The Bulldogs would like to see Rumph come through in the last season of his short stay in Athens. They’ll be without big-play threats Malcolm Mitchell and Justin Scott-Wesley at least for the first game.
“Rumph’s a guy that we need this year for our offense to be successful,” Mason said. “We’re going to need his big body, especially in the red zone. We’re just going to need him in the rotation. There’s a lot of guys we’re going to need this year to perform at a high level, me being one of them.”