The St. Matthews, S.C., product signed with UK in 2008, 2009 and again in 2010.
For Donte Rumph, a 6-foot-3, 308-pound defensive tackle, the third time was the charm as he at last got through the NCAA academic clearinghouse and became eligible to play. On Saturday, when UK visits South Carolina, Rumph, now a sophomore, will play in his home state for the first time as a collegian.
Here are five questions with Donte Rumph.
Q: You had 12 tackles all of last year. You already have 16 in five games this season. How have you changed in a year?
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A: Better shape (physically), better football player.
Q: Obviously, you stuck by Kentucky for a long time while you tried to get eligible, and UK stuck by you. Were you ever on the verge of giving up?
A: No. Coach (Joker) Phillips and the whole staff here, family members, they were on my side. They kept in touch with me. I would talk to Coach Phillips, maybe, on a daily basis. Just catching up, seeing where I am, see how things are going, just to check on me.
I really appreciated that. As long as (the wait) was, mentally it starts to wear down on you. Just to have that every day, that assurance, it helps a lot.
Q: You had a brother, Tremaine Tyler, who played safety for South Carolina and a cousin, Philip Merling, who played defensive end for Clemson. So which school did you root for?
A: When my brother was playing, I was for South Carolina. When my cousin was playing for Clemson, I was for Clemson. When I committed to UK, obviously I was going to root for the SEC team.
Q: You played high school football with Alshon Jeffrey, the South Carolina star wide receiver. What is he like as a guy?
A: He's funny. He's a clown. When the time comes to play and it's time to get serious, he gets serious. He's a funny guy, great, great personality, great sense of humor. You always have a smile or laugh around him.
Q: I'm told your favorite class so far at UK was an entomology course? Really? Bugs?
A: "(Laughs). To see how these creatures have evolved, how they are surviving, it's neat. It catches your attention. It caught my eye. ... I'm trying to take from it for value in my life; they are surviving, maybe I can fight to survive, too."