The K-State football roster lists Robert Lee Rose as 5-foot-4 and 174-pounds, and as the No. 2/3 running back for the Wildcats. Rose begs to differ, he hopes, in every area. With dreadlocks streaming down his face, Rose says, "I'm 5-5 and 180 … maybe. I'm not the biggest, but I do what I can."
What Rose thinks he can also do is beat out John Hubert as the Wildcats' go-to No. 1 running back.
"I think I'm pretty close," Rose said, "but that's something you need to ask coach (Bill) Snyder about."
What the K-State boss says is that Rose is running stride-for-stride alongside of Angelo Pease for the backup position to Hubert, who a year ago rushed for 970 yards helping the ‘Cats to a 10-victory season.
"We're all great backs trying to make the team better," said Hubert, who rushed for 35 yards on nine carries in 2011. "John is a great downhill runner; Angelo has the versatility to throw the ball out of the backfield; and while I'm not the athlete as far as throwing the ball, but I think I can be the everyday back who can run the ball, catch the ball and block."
Rose went on to scout himself as someone "… who has the ability to be physical. My size may say I'm a scat back, but I like to stick my head in there and also have the ability to take a couple hits. I can also catch the ball out of the backfield, which can set me apart from some other backs."
While small in stature, Rose also says that durability is not a concern. In fact, he says, "Being smaller and so low to the ground doesn't give anyone much to hit" … like it was for the 5-7ish, 180 poundish Darren Sproles nearly a decade ago for the Wildcats.
Nickname "Ro-Show" while at Miami Springs High School, Rose remembers being given the K-State media guide by former Wildcat Mario Smith to encourage him to think about the Wildcats.
"I didn't pay much attention, but I remember this guy on the front. I think they called him ‘Little Tank'," said Rose in reference to Sproles, KSU's all-time leading rusher.
At the time, Rose was a "huge" Florida State fan, but come signing date those dreams, and all others, were dashed when it came to National Letter of Intent signing day.
Saying that "not one, not one" Division I school recruited him, Rose said, "It was the worst day of my life. All my friends were signing at Florida State and Miami, but I had no place to go."
That left Rose only to continue to listen to Smith try to sell K-State's walk-on program, and as he says, "Here I am today."
Of his current non-scholarship status, Rose laughs as he says, "I'm still a walk-on. I wish I could tell you a different story on that, but I can't."
Instead, going into his junior season he continues to do what he's had to do … well, forever. At each and every level, he's been told that he's too short and too small.
"Just about everybody I came in contract with," he said of the number of people telling him he's wasting his time trying to play football. "At the same time you can't listen to these nay sayers. As my dad always says, ‘David did slay Goliath.' That's the slogan I go by."
And the goal he continues to go by is being K-State's No. 1 running back: "It's spring and everyone has had a chance to try to prove themselves. We're all trying to make the team better. That's what my aim is. I want to be the starter and to push the other guys to be better." For Rose, and his running back friends, Saturday is show time as K-State stages its annual Purple-White Spring Game. The kickoff is at 1:10 p.m. at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.
"I'm pretty anxious," said Rose. "It's a time to let it all out."
SNYDER ON SATURDAY:
Coach Bill Snyder said that the format of Saturday's spring game would likely not be set until Thursday.
"Normally we have the No. 1 offense and No 1 defense on the same team, but we're contemplating going No. 1 against No 1," said Snyder. "We used to have 20 days of spring practice, so the 15 we now have seems short. We may want to take advantage of the spring game and make it as productive as we possibly can."
As Snyder has said all week, progress has been made this spring "… but it has been inconsistent. It hasn't been day after day, which is our ultimate goal."
K-State went through a full scrimmage this past Saturday with Snyder mentioning several names as having positive performances: "Blake Slaughter is doing a nice job with his consistency at inside linebacker; Robert Rose really practices hard and is productive in what he's doing; Tav Bender (freshman QB) is beginning to get it; Anthony Cantele (placekicker) is really hitting the ball well; Tyler Lockett has demonstrated a tremendous amount of toughness physically and mentally at the position he plays; and Chris Harper had a nice scrimmage on Saturday."