Rolle Feels Right at Home

University of Miami senior defensive back Antrel Rolle will worry about Florida State receiver Craphonso Thorpe when the time comes. For now, Rolle is just glad to be back on the football field. "It just feels good to be back with my guys," said Rolle, a preseason All-American and Thorpe Award candidate.

"My only serious concern was missing football, and of course not getting into serious trouble. It feels great to be back out here with my family."

Rolle, one of the premier defensive backs in the country and the anchor of the Hurricanes secondary, will have a grand assignment on his hands trying to cover Thorpe when the Hurricanes meet the Seminoles Sept. 6. But just knowing he'll get the chance brings a smile to Rolle's face.

Rolle was arrested July 11 in Coconut Grove and charged with resisting an officer without violence and disorderly conduct, in addition on a felony charge of battery on a police officer. Rolle's arrest resulted in an indefinite suspension from the football team. But, a few weeks later, all charges were dropped by prosecutors.

"I knew that things would work out," says Rolle. "I know I didn't do anything wrong, and that's why I'm glad everything worked out the way it did."

Although the process didn't drag on Rolle felt uncomfortable because he could not predict the outcome.

"I prayed every night because you never know how things may have turned out," he says.

Now that Rolle has been vindicated there might be a lot of receivers around the country saying a little prayer. The 6-1, 203-pounder, out of South Dade High in Homestead, has done such a terrific job in shutting down opposing receivers throughout his UM career that teams have started to ignore his side of the field.

"That's the ultimate compliment in my opinion," says UM coach Larry Coker. "It really says a lot about Antrel's ability as a football player."

Rolle has compiled four interceptions in three seasons, but that doesn't begin to tell what he means to Miami's secondary. Rolle has not surrendered a touchdown in the last 25 games - a span that covers nearly two seasons. Last season, Rolle held Larry Fitzgerald, a first-round selection of the Arizona Cardinals, to three catches for 26 yards in a 28-14 Miami victory over Pittsburgh.

"That's what it's all about - going up against the best of the best," Rolle says.

After opting to return for his final season and bypassing the NFL draft, where many analysts believe he could have been a first-round selection, Rolle is expected to shoulder the burden for a secondary that lost Sean Taylor, Mo Sikes and Alfonso Marshall.

"It happens every year - we produce big guys," said Rolle. "When we lost Mike Rumph, Ed Reed and Phil Buchanon - myself, Sean, Mo and Kelly Jennings stepped in."

Rolle already owns a national championship ring, but as a freshman in 2001 he played in just eight games. He wants another ring - and this time leave no doubt he's earned it.

"I want to play a major role in winning (a championship)," Rolle says.

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