January 13, 2014

Rhymer leaves South to take over at Cumberlands

Special to The Sentinel-Echo

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — After one year at the helm of South Laurel football, Matt Rhymer has left to take over the head coaching job at his alma mater, the University of the Cumberlands, becoming the school’s fifth head coach.

“It is an honor, a privilege, and a humbling opportunity that I have been preparing for since I was a player,” said Coach Rhymer.  “I had a great experience at UC as both a player and a coach and the opportunity to give back to the university that has done so much for me is an amazing occasion.  My sincere thanks go out to Dr. and Mrs. Taylor, Coach Vernon, and Dr. Cockrum for their confidence in me.  I’m looking forward to working with the UC faculty and staff and our community and am excited about connecting with our football alumni.”

Rhymer was graduated from the University of the Cumberlands in 2007 with a degree in Public Health.  He played football for the Patriots from 2003-2007 as a linebacker on a highly respected defensive unit.  After graduation, he continued his education as he earned the opportunity to be a Graduate Assistant Coach for the Patriots and complete his Master’s Degree in education.  Rhymer’s ability to pay attention to detail, grasp defensive concepts, and connect with his players has given him the opportunity to become a great coach. 

“Coach Rhymer is very familiar with our university and our football program,” said UC President Jim Taylor.  “He is a good Christian man and respects and understands the values that UC tries to instill in our student-athletes.  Coach Rhymer understands football players are students first and then athletes.  He has been helpful in the past as an excellent recruiter bringing many current football players to Cumberlands who have excelled both on and off the field and he is ready to step in and lead our Patriots.”

After five seasons of assisting in guiding one of the better defenses in the nation at UC, along with coaching a handful of All-Americans and All-Conference players on his defensive line, he took to the high school ranks as an offensive line and defensive back coach for Oneida High School in Oneida, Tennessee.  Moving up in the ranks, Rhymer interviewed for the head cCoach opening at South Laurel High School and was chosen to guide the South Laurel Cardinals.  At South Laurel, Rhymer promoted a renewed vision for the overall football program within the school and the community and increased the team roster from 35 members in the previous season to a total of 61 players this past year.

“I’m elated to have Matt Rhymer as our new head football coach,” said UC Athletic Director Randy Vernon.  “Matt is a man with strong Christian values, who understands our University’s mission and brings unmatched passion and enthusiasm to this job. He is a very good recruiter with strong Kentucky ties and as a former player and coach at UC, is familiar with many of our current players.  We had over 150 applicants and some very strong candidates for the position, but every time Dr. Cockrum, our Vice President for Academics, and I reviewed an application we kept coming back to Matt. He just gave us more of what we were looking for than anyone else.”

Rhymer inherits a Patriot team that ended the 2013 season with a record of 13-1 with an NAIA National Championship game appearance for the first time in school history.   The season was filled with numerous broken records, a plethora of Mid-South Conference All-Conference selections, numerous All-American selections, and numerous academic awards, a team, which will go down to date, as the greatest football team in the Patriots 28 year history of football.

“I have a ton of passion, energy, and commitment to UC,” said Rhymer.  “I look to continue to build a team of players that have pride, class, and character in all they do.  We will focus on the student-athlete and becoming better people and good representatives for UC.  Being able to share my faith and having the opportunity to instill Christian morals and values to build our team around Biblical principles will help us be successful in every phase of life.”

Rhymer, a native of Harlan, Kentucky, is married to the former Jessica Lowrie and the couple is expecting their first child in March.

“I look forward to meeting with the team next week and getting started with our off-season training and work-outs.  We are going to continue to run our offense based on the triple option and our defense will continue to be very similar and help us win games.  I am excited to hit the trail hard recruiting local student- athletes as well as continuing with the recruitment of top regional talent.  I have no doubt that Patriot football will remain at the top.”