Most five-foot-ten, 190-pound players would hesitate when their defensive coordinator wants them to move from cornerback to rover, which calls for linebacker skills in addition to pass coverage duties. Not so with Ronaldo Attimy.
Even though he played cornerback at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M his freshman season and during his sophomore year at Auburn, he says playing inside is more enjoyable. "Mainly because you're not on an island by yourself," Attimy says. "You're in the main focus group and in the mix of everything like that inside. That's a plus and I like playing in there. There is a lot more action."
It's also a lot more physical inside and that is another area that Attimy doesn't shy away from. He made the move inside during spring drills and says stopping the run is more fun than stopping the pass. "I really do like playing run defense more than pass defense because it's more smash mouth football. I like hitting."
Ronaldo Attimy (35) gets physical at practice.
He made that quite evident in the Florida game when he laid a lick on a player almost twice his size. On the final play of the game, Gator quarterback Rex Grossman ran for as long as he could before he made a desperation pitch behind his head hoping for a miracle. Attimy quickly put an end to that threat when he fearlessly tackled offensive lineman Max Starks, who happens to be the biggest man on the Florida roster and perhaps in the SEC. Starks is a six-foot-seven, 367-pound monster of a lineman who picked up the loose ball and tried to bull his way some 70 yards to the end zone. He made it about five before Attimy made the game-ending tackle.
"I saw him coming," Attimy says. "I wasn't afraid or anything like that. I see them coming everyday at practice, so it was nothing new to me. Smash mouth, that is real football. You against the next man across the ball from you. It's whose the strongest, whose the best that will win the battles."
Attimy's adjustment to the rover spot has not come without its difficulties though. In fact, Attimy says it has been frustrating. "I didn't know why I wasn't playing more," he notes. "I guess his (defensive coordinator John Lovett's) confidence in me wasn't growing. That was disappointing. I just had to suck it up and go out there and practice. I guess he's starting to see I can play. I'm ready. I guess it's all about his confidence in me."
It takes confidence from your head coach , too, and Attimy is beginning to show Tommy Tuberville that he is capable of playing rover. "Ronaldo has had his ups and downs," Tuberville says. "He's struggled mentally with some of the things we've been doing. But, he's starting to pick it up now. He's reacts a little bit better than he did. Defensive is more reaction. You have to be able to react and be aggressive and he was not as aggressive as he needed to be early in the year."
As for Lovett, he says Attimy is improving week in and week out and his playing time will increase as the season progresses.