During nearly two decades as a defensive assistant at Clemson, Alabama, Texas and Florida, Chris Rumph had nearly 20 players he coached selected in the NFL Draft. But next week's draft will be unlike any other the first-year Bears defensive line coach has ever experienced.
That's because Rumph's son, Chris Rumph II, is a promising edge rusher from Duke who most analysts expect to be chosen on the second or third day of the draft.
"It's a tremendous blessing, for him to have a chance to get drafted and to see a dream and a goal of his to be accomplished," said the new Bears assistant, who spent 18 years at the collegiate level before entering the NFL in 2020 as Texans outside linebackers coach.
While he's excited about his son beginning his NFL career, Rumph Sr. concedes that it's an unnerving and emotional time for both him and his wife, Kila. They know that their oldest of two sons is ready to leave "the nest;" they just don't know where he'll be flying off to.
"It's hard for both my wife and myself because you hear all this stuff that's being said and you see the [draft] projections and different things like that," Rumph said. "Everybody sees him as this big outside linebacker … but sometimes it's hard to get past seeing that little boy. It's tough emotionally to see him grow up and mature. It starts out that you want them out of the house as fast as you can. Then when they get out of the house, you want them back in the house.
"At the same time, we've got to realize he's 22 years old, we raised him the right way, we instilled in him great character and values, and now it's time for him to take those values we taught him and to flourish and to go out and to really mature and become a great man."
Rumph was certainly the man at Duke, where he registered 124 tackles, 17.5 sacks and 33.0 tackles-for-loss in 35 games the past three seasons. Last year the 6-3, 235-pounder established career highs with 52 tackles and 8.0 sacks while also recording 11.5 tackles-for-loss.
NFL.com draft analysts Lance Zierlein and Chad Reuter are both predicting that Rumph will be chosen in the third round.
Regardless of what transpires in the draft, it's nothing that anyone named Rumph can control. With that being the case, the father has advised his son to take a deep breath and enjoy the experience.
"Don't try to figure out where you're going," said Rumph Sr. "Just know that this is a blessing. Don't get frustrated [not knowing] where you're going and who's going to pick you; what team and what city and what round. Just relax and enjoy the process."
Asked if he has encouraged Bears general manager Ryan Pace to draft Rumph II, his father jokes: "I've been telling him the whole time, the 20th pick, we know where it should go. I could get that done right now."
In reality, Rumph Sr. has removed himself from the Bears' evaluation of his son.
"I stayed out of it," he said. "I wanted them to do their jobs and I didn't want anybody to feel like they would have to skirt around any issues that he may have as a player as you pick guys apart. I didn't want to feel like those guys were holding back. So I just stayed out of it and let them do their jobs and we'll see what happens."
Rumph II didn't begin playing organized football until his sophomore year at Lake Travis High School in Austin, Texas—one year later than his father had expected. Rumph Sr. has a rule about his sons not playing the sport until they reach high school, so when the father received an informational email about Chris joining the freshman team, he could hardly contain his excitement.
"It was one of those deals where you meet the coaches, get all the information about football and the camps and the fees," Rumph Sr. said. "So I'm jacked up. I can't wait for him to get home. When he got home I said, 'Hey, man, are you ready? Tonight we meet the coach and we go all through this stuff!' And he was like, 'Dad, I don't think I'm going to play football this year.'"
Rumph Sr., who played linebacker at South Carolina from 1991-94, was shocked.
"Ohhhh, man," he said with a laugh. "It crushed me. He ended up playing baseball. He had a good time, but I'm telling you, when he said those words I was like, 'Oh, man!'"
Rumph II decided—on his own—to start his football career as a high school sophomore and eventually earned a scholarship to Duke, where he developed into an NFL prospect.
The next step in the young man's journey will be determined next weekend when the Rumph family gathers together in their Houston home to watch the draft. Rumph II will be joined by his parents, 15-year-old brother Elijah, and a few friends and neighbors.
While there are so many unknowns heading into draft weekend, Rumph Sr. knows what to expect once his son is selected.
"I think my youngest son will be bouncing around and he'll be hard on him and say, 'You should have gone higher,'" Rumph Sr. said with a laugh. "I think Chris will be overwhelmed and relieved that it's over with. I think I'll be happy and proud, and I think my wife will be crying."