Last May, I happened to be on a flight from Houston after shooting a feature with Rashawn Slater.
Lo and behold, another new draft pick of the Chargers happened to be on that same flight.
Chris Rumph II.
He was heading to rookie minicamp and after catching up with him while waiting for our luggage, his excitement was palpable. He was in awe of the weather and told me it was his first time stepping foot in California.
With his rookie season now in the books, I figured it was a good time to catch up with Rumph II aka 'Cali Chris,' so here's more from the outside linebacker on his first pro year, what he wants to improve on in 2022, and oh yeah, what it's like being on the sideline watching Justin Herbert take the field.
You and I met on a random flight from Houston after you were drafted. We're talking in baggage claim, and you told me you had never been to California. Now that you've been here for a season, what do you think?
Chris Rumph II: I love it! I get my hair twisted, and when I get it twisted, I call it, 'Cali Chris.' So far, I love it. It's expensive! But other than that, the sun's great, the weather's great, the people are such a vibe. I'm just loving it all.
Rookie season now in the books, how'd it go for you?
Rumph II: Rookie season had a lot of ups and downs. I think it was more of just learning how the NFL works. I think I learned a lot this year. Me knowing my capabilities, I've taken time to look back and learn all the difficult things you have to go through as a rookie and transition through in order to be a high-level player like I know I'm capable of. I think it was really just educational and me just trying to get comfortable which I accomplished. I've got a lot of big goals on my plate for next season which I want to accomplish.
What maybe was the most challenging thing about getting used to playing in the league?
Rumph II: The most challenging part was having to be an elite player every day. Coming in and watching film, having to be at that top notch 24/7. I think that was the biggest thing for me, especially coming out of college, where some games you'd maybe not need to put in as much film work. But every week [in the NFL,] you compete against the best and you have to bring it.
Your dad is a coach, did he give you any advice heading into the season and would you rely on him through the ups and downs?
Rumph II: He was trying to make sure I was playing my game, in my playbook and making sure I knew what I was doing out there. That's a big thing in the NFL, having the coaches being able to trust you. Those little tips helped me throughout the season just to stay on a steady path and not get frustrated or get on a tangent here or there. So just trust the process.