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Headline: A Rose With No Thorns
By Gary Housteau
(From Mar. 2006 issue)
In front of a national television audience during the U.S. Army All-American Bowl from San Antonio, Texas, on Jan. 7, Robert Rose of Cleveland Glenville High School had the chance to proudly announce his intention to continue his football career in college at Ohio State.
"It's something I'll never forget," said Rose shortly after his East's team's 26-17 victory over the West. "It felt really great and I just can't wait to talk to (OSU head coach Jim) Tressel."
Many Ohio State fans had assumed for the longest time that the 6-4, 240-pound Rose would indeed be the next Tarblooder to join the fold, and Rose finally pledged his allegiance to his home-state university at the beginning of the third quarter while the rest of the country tuned in.
"It's a relief to be through with the recruiting process, but it's also been a great opportunity for me," Rose said. "Ohio State is where I'm going to start my collegiate career and there's no place like home, so I'm proud to be at Ohio State."
Like the others that have come before him at Glenville, Rose knew that Ohio State was the ultimate destination for him from the very outset of the recruiting process.
"I knew on Feb. 2 of last year, on signing day, that I was going to Ohio State," Rose said. "Jim Tressel called me that day and he offered me a full scholarship, so I knew right then and there that I was going to attend Ohio State. I just went through the recruiting process to see how it was and see different places and different coaches and different universities. But I already had the decision made up in my mind all the time."
The chance to announce his official decision at the All-American Bowl was something that Rose just couldn't pass up.
"It was a great opportunity to announce in front of thousands of people, nationwide, and in front of my parents," said Rose, who was ranked as the state's No. 12 prospect by Ohio High and the nation's No. 17 defensive end by Scout.com. "It was hard trying to hide my decision because everybody always assumed that they knew where I was going. But it was hard trying to hide it and keep a straight face when I really was decided. So it was hard keeping the decision quiet."
He's just thankful that he found himself in a position to make a decision of this magnitude regarding his future. When he first went to high school at Cleveland Central Catholic, Rose wasn't even thinking about a career in football.
"Just to play football in the Big Ten or any major university is unbelievable," Rose said. "I never would have thought in a million years when I came to high school that I would be attending a Division I, big-time football university. I thought I was a basketball player. I thought I was going to Akron for basketball but I guess my whole life turned around when I met Coach (Ted) Ginn. I really want to thank him for the opportunity of getting me here. He got me to this day, he got me to Ohio State University and he's done a lot for me, so I just want to thank him."
In addition to playing basketball for a year at Central Catholic, Rose also played football for the Ironmen while he was there, and he was a starter on the varsity at fullback. He actually transferred to Glenville in the winter of his sophomore year and played basketball at Glenville that season.
"I saw a whole lot of guys going to good schools at Glenville and I wanted to be a part of it," Rose said. "I saw what he was doing with his guys like Donte Whitner and I said, ‘Why not? If they can do it then I sure can do it.'
"And when I got there I saw all of these people walking by me...people from Miami (Fla.), Ohio State and LSU were all walking by, and I'm just looking like, ‘Oh my God, what are all of these people doing here?' So I just trusted Ginn and I knew he would lead me in the right direction, and it paid off because he did."
And so it's official now, Rose will be attending Ohio State on a football scholarship. He was set to sign his national letter of intent on Feb. 1, almost one full year to the day that he was offered.
"It's a big thrill and a big accomplishment for me, but I'm never satisfied and I'm never arrived," Rose said. "I have to go to Ohio State and start all over again. I'm like a freshman in high school again and I have to start all over and work hard to get me a spot. I'm going to try to compete from the very beginning and get a starting job."
According to Rose, with Ginn all things are possible and Rose himself is a perfect example.
"I'm a better football player because I met Coach Ginn," he said. "It's not as much about Glenville as it is about Ginn teaching me how to be a real man.
"I have a loving mother and father at home but they're not really involved with sports. But Ginn is like my dad away from home. When my father is not there to watch my game, I look over and see Ginn and I'm just as comfortable seeing him as I am with my father."
At the biggest moment of his life, on national television, Rose recognized his mom and dad who weren't at the game.
"They were at home watching and I wanted to mention them. That was special for me," Rose said. "They support me emotionally and socially and at school, and they're real proud right now. I just got off the phone with them and they're real proud."
After watching the game, they had to be proud of the way their son performed in the All-American Bowl even though Rose himself thought he could have played better.
"I'm never satisfied with myself no matter how I played," Rose said. "I thought that I could have played way better than the way I played today. I'm never satisfied."
Rose made his presence known early in the game when he started causing havoc in the West backfield from the very beginning of the game.
"They started doubling-up on me by sliding the running back over to my side," he said. "The tackle would try to cut me and then the running back would try to hit me. But I think I played pretty good today. I did all right but I'm never satisfied."
Matt Chinchar, the offensive coordinator in the game who has the same role on the staff at Glenville, thought Rose had a tremendous game overall.
"I was really happy for him because he played a lot of offense for us at tight end, and when our center went down he did the long-snap," Chinchar said. "So he played defense, he played tight and he did the long-snapping, so yeah, I thought he did real well. I was real happy for him."
Chinchar thinks that Rose is only going to become a better football player in the years ahead.
"He's just starting to realize what God has blessed him with and what he's capable of doing," he said. "He can really become a great player in college, no question about it."
Chinchar is also a counselor at the high school and he sees the same potential in Rose as a person.
"He's a lot more mature now than when he first came to Glenville," Chinchar said. "He understands what the game is all about and he understands a little bit more about what an education is all about. He seems to have everything in it's proper perspective and I wish him well going forward."
Ginn sees the a lot of the same maturity in Rose that Chinchar has.
"He's really grown up in the last year. He just turned 18 (Dec. 24) and he's just now realizing what life is all about, and that's all that you can ask for from a kid," Ginn said. "I'm just proud of him and I'm really happy for him for the way that he played today."
It's not that Ginn didn't expect Rose to play well in the All-American Bowl, but it was the way in which he excelled that was really special.
"I'm so proud of him now because he played so well on the big stage," Ginn said. "At Glenville, we always wanted Rob to take over the game and at times he could do that. But today he showcased his ability on national TV and that's what I was really excited about. Now he really knows what it's all about and I am excited for him."
Confidence was never lacking in Rose's game prior to the All-American Bowl and it certainly won't be lacking when he goes on to Ohio State.
"I was always confident in myself before today, so nothing has really changed," Rose said. "The tackles were a little bit quicker down here than what I've been used to, and I know it will be like that again on the next level, but I'm confident that I'll be able to do well there also."
Even though his future is in football, Rose will resume playing basketball in the winter before he begins working hard on his football career once again.
"I'm going to train really hard. After basketball it's train, train, train," he said. "I leave for Ohio State in the summer right after I graduate and I'm going to give it everything that I've got."
His future couldn't look any brighter after his performance in the All-American Bowl.
"I'm real happy and excited about the future," Rose said. "I'm kind of sore
right now, but I'm happy and excited."