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Duke Player to Watch: EDGE Defender, Chris Rumph II

After Chris Rumph II’s Career Setting Evening Last Year Against Miami, the Canes Will Need To Focus On Making Rumph II a Non-Factor This Year

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Duke v Georgia Tech Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

Despite the scheduling gymnastics performed in the ACC this week, there will be at least one constant preparation-wise going into this weekend’s game against Duke that was also expected in the Wake Forest tilt: they’ll still be matched up against a top notch EDGE pass rusher. That is, they go from facing the Demon Deacons’ Carlos Basham Jr. to now facing the Blue Devils’ Chris Rumph II.

Until Miami’s Gregory Rousseau opted out for the season, Rousseau, Basham, and Rumph II were considered the best pass rushers in the NCAA and are also all still deemed some of the top EDGE prospects for next April’s NFL Draft. The three elite ACC EDGE defenders have made the most of their opportunities as all entered college as three-star recruits. Namely, Rousseau was the 485th recruit in the nation in 2018, Rumph II was the 1223rd recruit in the nation in 2017, and Basham was the 1698th recruit in the nation in 2016. To provide some context, Miami transfer, Jaelan Phillips, was the 1st overall recruit in 2017 and Rousseau, Rumph II, and Basham should all be drafted before Phillips should all of them declare.

Regardless, as is usually the case on the field for pass rushers, it’s not how you start it’s how you finish. And Rumph II is making the most of his time at Duke and anticipates being the earliest Blue Devil selected in the NFL Draft since QB, Daniel Jones, was picked 6th overall in 2019.

Despite no known relation to the Rumph near-and-dear to Miami fans’ hearts and coaching staff, CB Coach Mike Rumph, football runs in Rumph II’s family. His father, also named Chris, is currently in his first season as outside LBs coach for the Houston Texans after 18 seasons coaching college football. Even though football is in his blood, Rumph II did not begin playing serious football until spring of his sophomore year of high school when his family moved to an area that Canes’ fans inherently despise, Gainesville, Florida. As a result of his slow introduction to football, he fell under the radar as a recruit much to Duke’s delight.

The strides Rumph II has made since then have been incredible as he has collected 116 tackles and 17.5 sacks in his 33 games at Duke. It must also be noted he did not become a regular starter until this year as he only started one game up until the 2020 campaign. Regardless of the lack of reps, Rumph II has indubitably caught the attention of NFL scouts and analysts from across the nation.

Despite only having a 6’3”, 225-pound frame, his knack for getting into the backfield with a combination of long arms and quickness resulted in earning All-American honors in 2019. Rumph II won 30.8 percent of his pass rush attempts last season, per PFF College, the highest rate in the country, and he finished as PFF College’s highest-rated edge defender on the season.

There was no better display of Rumph II’s ability to disrupt a backfield than when he showed off his endless motor against Miami in the 2019 season finale. Rumph II was a frequent flier in the Canes’ backfield all night long on the way to a 27-17 Duke victory, as he recorded career highs with 8 tackles and 3.5 sacks.

That night, Rumph II consistently showed off his bullrush prowess up the middle and also showed an uncanny ability to get to the QB on either end with his rangy presence. He forced Miami’s QB’s to make early passes and/or strip sacks as he had an astounding 13 QB Pressures on the evening. In fact, the majority of Rumph II’s highlight film seems to be from that one game. The evening was absolutely one that DJ Scaife Jr, Jakai Clarke, et. al. would like to forget - or at least get vengeance for this Saturday.

As for this weekend, the 10th ranked Canes want to show that they comfortably belong in a New Year’s Six Bowl Game. To do so, they will need to not just beat, but blowout, the 2-7 Blue Devils. To get a blowout victory, the underwhelming Canes’ offensive line will have to handle the biggest test of the game and hold their own against a defensive line led by Rumph II.

To date, the Canes have allowed 25 sacks, accounting for a loss of 152 yards (19 yards lost per game by way of sack). The 3.13 sacks per game ranks T-104th out of 126 teams in the NCAA. Even worse, the front offensive trench is ranked 121st out of 126 teams in tackles for loss allowed per game as they have allowed 69 TFL through 8 games (8.63 TFL/game accounting for 248 yards - another 31 yards lost per game). Also, despite some early season flashes in the running game, Miami’s running game has been nonexistent as of late.

In last year’s matchup, OL Navaughn Donaldson and RB Cam’Ron Harris both experienced early departures in the game due to injury, which definitely did not help combat Rumph II’s career game. Donaldson, in particular, has missed over a year as a result of that game’s injury, but is expected to make his much anticipated return as I recently highlighted in this article.

While Duke’s season is lost, they are playing for an opportunity to beat Miami for the third year in a row and the combination of Rumph II and other Defensive End, Victor Dimukeje, will look to anchor the way to playing spoiler against Manny Diaz, D’Eriq King, and company. Dimukeje complements Rumph II very well as he has added 28 tackles and 7.5 sacks this season. Even though Miami’s OL numbers to date are not reassuring, they have been pushed by some of the country’s best at Greentree practices in Jaelan Phillips and Quincy Roche.

Also, they have already faced one of the best EDGE combos in the ACC in Pitt’s Patrick Jones II and Rashad Weaver, a game Miami ended up winning. They also faced the tough Clemson front featuring Justin Mascoll and stud freshmen, Myles Murphy and Bryan Bresee. The Clemson game not being as favorable of a result.

Due to the fact that Duke does not feature a well-rounded group, Coach Diaz and OL Coach, Garin Justice, need to assure that they are able to focus on and eliminate Rumph II early and often. Miami has been known to come out of bye weeks flat-footed in recent years, but they absolutely cannot do that in this game as this would be an embarrassing game to play close.

If the OL comes out slow and doesn’t give King and the RBs time to make things happen, then Rumph II will certainly smell blood and the flashbacks to the 2019 massacre could loom. But, due to the fact that the Canes had already been planning on limiting a pass-rushing specialist in Basham and they have ample tape on Rumph II’s strengths from last year, they should be ready to answer the call.