RECRUITING: Myron Rolle Sees The Big Picture

It was around the time that he was in the ninth grade that Myron Rolle first began to understand what all the blessings were about. That was the time that the son of Bahamian immigrants to the United States began to see the world from the more mature perspective of a standard bearer for his family and a role model for all young sons and daughters of immigrant parents.

Rolle was a blossoming football player at the time, already showing the kind of talent that had college scouts taking notice. He was already a star in the classroom, a straight A student. From a family that had always emphasized education, he began to see the combination of athletics and education as the driving engine that would allow him to do for his family and for others.

"My parents are from the Bahamas and they never had the opportunities that I have in front of me because of my ability to play football," said Rolle of Galloway, New Jersey (The Hun School, Princeton, NJ) who has filled out to be a strapping 6-2, 217-pounder who is on the wish list of every Division I school. "They always stressed academics and education. That was always a part of me, but once I realized that football could open doors for me as well as open some doors for my family in life, everything took on new meaning.

"I realized that my educational background could help me out because I could get a chance to get a college degree then go on to medical school where I could become a doctor. I also realized that I had football as a way to earn a scholarship and if I am good enough, make it to the NFL someday, and from a financial standpoint, I could help my family there, too. The combination of academics and football is a way that gives me opportunities that only God can provide. I think I'm carrying the responsibility to represent my family and do well in life."

Always a top student, Rolle maintained the excellence in the classroom while developing on the football field. As a sophomore tailback he had had 153 carries for 1,038 yards and 13 touchdowns to go with 12 catches for 250 yards and two touchdowns. Defensively, he racked up 103 tackles. Last year as a junior, he had 142 carries for 1501 yards and 16 touchdowns. On defense, he had 83 tackles, six sacks and four interceptions.

That kind of ability has made Rolle one of the nation's most sought after prep football players. He will make every preseason All-America team and depending on if you like him best at safety or at corner, he will be the number one defensive back at either position. His 4.0 average and 1970 on the (new version) SAT will allow him to take early admission in January where he will begin a track to graduate in three years.

His football scholarship will be the next step in a life that is already planned out: a degree in three years, early entry into medical school, a chance to play in the NFL and of course, the one thing that drives him the hardest which is the chance to care for a family that he says showers him with love, encouragement and motivation.

"This is not too heavy a burden that I'm carrying," he said. "This is a choice I've made. This is what I want to do with my life. I have wonderful parents, my brothers, great friends and some incredible people who worship with us at my church all supporting me in so many ways but mostly with their prayers and encouragement."

Because he excels at everything he does, the well-spoken Rolle has college coaches clamoring for his attention. He's got offers already from Florida, Florida State, Miami, Oklahoma, Penn State, Southern Cal, Michigan, Texas and so may others. Even with so many outstanding coaches from so many top tier universities seeking his favor, the recruiting process won't last long at all.

"I will decide in August before my senior season," said Rolle. "I want everything settled before the season begins so I can concentrate on football and finishing high school in the fall. I'll be starting college somewhere in January."

At this point in the soon to be over recruiting process, he's keeping all options open.

"I get so much attention from all these coaches and they all say good things about me," he said. "I'm listening to what they have to say and right now, I don't want to close any doors because you never know what will happen. It's flattering to have all the attention and it's just a testament of the hard work that I've done and what God's done in my life. I'll make a choice soon enough but now I'm praying about what I'm going to do because I owe it to my family to make the best possible decision."

Prayer and church both have an important place in his life. He's active in the youth ministry at the Baptist church where his family belongs. On Sundays, he says that church is not just where you will find him, it's where he belongs.

"God is the major figure in my life," he said. "He's the one who's given me the ability and opportunity to do what I do. I am really blessed that God has His purpose and it is beyond what I can see. He's opening up avenues for me to be a role model as an athlete and as a doctor in the future. And he's opening the door for me to be a role model especially to immigrant kids such as young Bahamians coming up who don't see the light coming up at the end of the tunnel. Maybe if I can be a positive enough role model, I can somehow help them succeed. I hope they can draw some inspiration from me to know that if you trust God and give your best, you can make your dreams come true."

* * *

Myron Rolle took an unofficial visit to Gainesville last weekend to visit the University of Florida. He came to Florida because of the way that Coach Urban Meyer has sold the opportunity to take advantage of UF's unique position as a leader in both academics and athletics. It is obvious that he sees a lot of similarities his way of thinking and Meyer's.

"He (Meyer) has got a lot of plans," said Rolle. "He's very goal-oriented and very driven. In everything he does, he's motivated and he's looking for ways to motivate others."

Meyer has been actively recruiting him since he arrived at the University of Florida. Tight ends Coach Steve Addazio, who is responsible for recruiting the northeast for the Gators, is also actively involved in recruiting him to Gainesville. When he was in Gainesville, he liked what he saw of Meyer, Addazio and the entire Gator coaching staff.

"You can see how the entire coaching staff has caught Coach Meyer's vision for the future," he said. "This is a very motivated coaching staff."

Impressed with the way that Meyer won at Bowling Green and Utah before taking the Florida job, Rolle came to Gainesville to see the campus and the university, but also to spend time with the players to find out how they view the new coach. He spent a lot of time in Gainesville with Brandon Siler, Josh Portis and Ray McDonald.

"Brandon Siler is probably the best person I've met anywhere," Rolle said. "Even though he's a young kid, he is mature, very focused and driven … and he's really funny. I went everywhere with him, with Josh Portis and Ray McDonald. They included me in everything they did and talked to me like I was just one of the guys. I could see myself fitting in and being a part of what they have. I saw all the players and I saw how hard they work and how they push each other and how competitive they are."

With the players and coaches he felt there is a will to win and a feeling that "everyone has everyone's back … you don't see that everywhere."

* * *

During the visit to Gainesville he met with Dr. Keith Carodine and saw how Florida's academic support plan works. Florida showed him an academic plan designed specifically for him, showing how he can earn his bachelor's degree in just three years. He saw a primary plan that allows him to major in microbiology and a backup plan that would see him earn his degree in psychology.

He spent time Saturday morning at Shands Hospital where he met Matt Cunningham, a medical student whom Rolle says "is a responsible, focused young black man who made it very clear what I need to do to prepare for the transition from undergraduate to medical school."

He got a thorough tour of the medical school and left Shands Hospital thoroughly impressed.

"I knew more or less what to expect before I got there," he said, "but Shands probably exceeded my expectations. Everything I saw was outstanding."

A little bit later over at The Swamp, he came across a plaque for a former Gator wide receiver. The ex-Gator played for Florida in the 1980s. The son of Bahamian immigrants, he walked on under Coach Charley Pell, earned a scholarship and went on to play in the National Football League. From the NFL he went on to medical school and now he is a successful physician in Tallahassee.

"I saw this plaque of Gary Rolle," said Myron Rolle. "People started telling me about him and I thought, wow. There is something about that story that sounds familiar! I don't think we're related but we could be … we're from the Bahamas."

Meyer has even taken to calling Myron "Dr. Rolle" when they talk. Myron sees it in a motivational sense.

"Coach Meyer talks about the things he sees in the future for the Gators," Rolle said. "He talks about what he sees in the future for his players. He's very motivational and I think his attitude has rubbed off on the coaching staff and on all the players."

* * *

Rolle is so athletic that he could play a number of positions but it is on defense that he wants to excel.

"I'm already as big as most safeties and they say I could grow into an outside linebacker if I really pushed it on the weights," said Rolle, who has run a 4.5 40. "But, I'm a football player and I'll play anywhere you want me to. If you let me choose, I would choose corner because it's him against me. I'm going to play with the attitude that I'm going to shut you down and you're done for the game."

Football is fun, but it's also very serious. It's just one part of a grand scheme for Myron Rolle, a scheme that will take him where he wants to go with the kind of results he's always dreamed about.

"I've really been blessed," he said. "It's up to me to use the blessings I've got to be a blessing to others. That's what I really want to do."


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