MORGANTOWN - At first glance, Ricky Rumph might be one of the nicest guys you'll ever meet in college football. He ended a conversation the other day by thanking a reporter for his time, extending a hand and saying, "Nice to meet you.''
Really, now, who does that?
Then again, it's perhaps wise to put Rumph's summer of 2012 into context in order to fully appreciate why every moment seems to be a joy.
Two years ago, he wasn't even a football player. Two months ago, he had exactly zero Division I scholarship offers.
And now he's in the mix for playing time as a true freshman cornerback at No. 11 West Virginia.
"My coach always told me that God makes paths for everybody in different ways,'' Rumph said. "I just felt like he made a hard path for me.''
There are no heart-tugging tales in Rumph's story. It's not as if he grew up homeless or experienced a string of tragedies. Instead, it just seems that he's been late to the party every step of the way.
For instance, while most college football players have been envisioning their current lots since they were old enough to strap on a helmet for the first time, Rumph never even considered the possibility until he was a junior or senior in high school. Until then, he had visions of basketball stardom.
Then a coach at his high school in Daytona Beach, Fla., watched him play basketball one day and made a fairly obvious observation.
"He told me, 'Nobody wants a 5-10 point guard. You need to come play football,' '' Rumph recalls. "And at our high school, you really did have to be taller. Vince Carter played there. He set a high standard.''
So as a junior at Mainland High School in the fall of 2010, just two years ago, Rumph tried football seriously for the first time. Having to start basically from scratch, Rumph didn't even play that much.
By the time he was a senior, though, he'd completely given up basketball and worked on making himself a cornerback. Did pretty well, too.
Only one problem: His grades were lousy and his test scores worse. If anyone had a notion of signing him, that was the red flag that popped up. So signing came and went in February and Rumph was passed over.