Freshmen safety Myron Rolle was always certain he could compete physically with the rest of the team, but he also knew there would be a lot for him to learn this spring if he wanted a shot at playing time in his first season.
Confident? Yes. Cocky? No.
When he wakes up in the morning football is the main thing on his mind. He'll be in the shower visualizing a defensive set and running through his responsibilities. That's how seriously he's taking this opportunity.
"When I wake up in the morning I'm thinking,jet robber. what am I doing? Am I looking at the guard? Honestly, I'm not telling you that to sound good," said Rolle. "I have to make sure that I know what I'm doing. If the coach trust me then he will put me on the field against Miami. That's what I'm working to do right now."
It's been a challenge that Rolle has graciously accepted.
Coaches piled Rolle with loads of information during spring camp. He will admit he's been a little overwhelmed at times, but he's always fought his way through the learning process. He's catching up with the speed of the game and he will take coaches criticism, even though that's something he never had to previously endure.
"You just have to learn to play faster and be mentally tough when coaches yell at you," said Rolle. "That's something that I never had to experience in high school. I was always the star. No coach ever got on my case. But here, every coach is going to get on your case. You just have to take it and use it as positive reinforcement."
"The thing with him is that you wanted to let him get comfortable on the field and let him play it how he played in high school," said graduate assistance James Colzie. "He looks exactly how he looked on his high school film. It was just a matter of time before he learned what we had to do. Now, he's just making plays."
Rolle's rare abilities are almost overshadowed by his rare level of maturity. Coach Bobby Bowden has needed to "de-recruit" incoming players in the past, usually meaning he had to deflate an ego. That's not the case with Rolle.
Said Bowden: "He's too mature. Most freshmen are not."
Rolle has the right attitude and coaches have been impressed with his play, too. Bowden added that Rolle was everything he expected from what he had seen during recruiting.
Rolle nabbed two interceptions during Monday's practice in one of his better performances this spring. Although he's still running with the second-team defense, Rolle has shown flashes of what made him a high school standout.
"It was a pretty good day," said Rolle. "The first interception was in the seven on seven. I saw Tommy Keane looking at me and kind of giving me a wink. He didn't know we were playing cover 2, so I was able to get on top of the receiver. He went up top for the ball and I went over him. I was just able to out muscle him for the ball and coach was really happy because of that. I got a gasser taken off because of that play."
Roger Williams has been a bit of a mentor for Rolle on the field. It's little things where Williams helps out, but it does make a difference. Williams said Rolle can pick up tips quickly.
"He's ahead of the game," said Williams.
Rolle got his first dose of college reality during preseason mat drills. He'd heard the hype. Word was that it was joining to be tough. And it was.
"First day, they were honest," said Rolle. "It really beat me up. A lot of kids that we're recruited as highly as me don't pan out, but I'm not that way. I'm trying to be my best and that's why Florida State recruited me."
The positive feedback that Rolle received during recruiting is what gave him confidence coming into FSU, though none of it has gone to his head.
"There was doubt that I could play physically," said Rolle. "All of the coaches that recruited me out of high school from Oklahoma, Bob Stoops, to Larry Coker, they all said I had what it took physically. They just had to see how I progressed mentally. They knew I was a smart individual and I could pick up things quicker. You never know until you're put in that college atmosphere. Now I am and coach Andrews has told me that I've improved a lot since day one. That's what I did in mat drills and that's what I'm doing this spring."
Coach Mickey Andrews has an unwritten rule for his defensemen; Everyday get two percent better. Colzie said that Rolle has upped the ante to three or four percent.
If he continues along this path, there's no telling how good he'll someday be. The dedication is already there and that's something everyone sees.
"First when I saw him I thought he was real serious guy, but he's laid back," said Williams. "He's got his little cracks."
Turns out, there's a little bit of freshman in him after all.
The Real Deal!
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