Through the first five games of the season, the defensive lineman has recorded nine tackles including three for loss and two sacks and has also recorded a safety. With one more tackle, Rose will tie his career-high for a single season.
When the Buckeyes broke camp, however, Rose was nowhere to be found. The former four-star defensive end prospect from Cleveland Glenville was not with the team as he resolved an academic situation that threatened to sideline him indefinitely.
"I had to pass a class in the summer to be able to come to camp but I didn't get that done so I had to retake the class," Rose said following OSU's 33-14 victory Oct. 3 against Indiana. "I retook the class the first week of camp. It was a pass/fail class. I didn't really have to go, I just had a paper I had to turn it. Once I did that, I could play."
It was an African-American studies class on the history of the slave trade that held Rose back. Although he was not allowed to take part in team workouts, Rose said he worked out with OSU director of football performance Eric Lichter, watched film and met with the coaches so he would not be behind when he rejoined the team.
Junior offensive lineman Bryant Browning – also a Glenville alumnus – said there was never any doubt that Rose would eventually be back with the team.
"I knew he had a little issue that he was going to have a chance to try and take care of and when he got back he was going to what he could to be a great team member," Browning said. "I feel like he's done a great job at that."
According to senior defensive tackle Todd Denlinger, Rose apologized to members of the defensive line on an individual basis when he returned to the team. When camp began, Denlinger said, he had no idea if he could count on Rose to be a contributor this season.
"He got in the weight room and he got into camp as soon as he could and he's been pounding ever since," Denlinger said. "It's been a great year for him. You can tell his work ethic has changed. He came in his senior year knowing it's a big year for him."
Once he had his passing grade, Rose was back in uniform. First, however, there was a price to be paid for the time he missed.
Rose said the situation had been detailed well in advance by OSU head coach Jim Tressel.
"I ran for a week straight," Rose said. "I had no idea (how bad it would be). I knew it was going to be tough. In the summer Coach Tressel and I had a talk and he said, ‘You know if you don't pass this class you're not going to be eligible.' Everything was already understood. I knew I had messed up and had to pay for it. The punishment was tough."
Through it all, however, Rose said he never doubted his desire to be a member of the 2009 OSU squad. After bursting onto the scene as a true freshman in 2006 with 3.5 sacks in mop-up duty, Rose had just four tackles the following season while he battled injuries to both shoulders that required off-season surgery.
He returned as a junior and finished with a career-high 10 tackles and 3.0 sacks while seeing the most playing time of his career. It all appeared to be for naught, however, when he was not part of the team this fall.
Despite the injury history, Denlinger said he could always see a solid player in Rose.
"Just look at him and you see his potential," Denlinger said. "He's a specimen. He's finally healthy and he's fast again. He's an unbelievable player this year."
According to Rose, who is listed at 6-5, 285 pounds, it helped that fellow senior and former Glenville standout Ray Small basically went through the process with him.
"I spent a lot of time with him and a lot of time with his family when I was going through that," Rose said. "We said it's our last year and we can't be quitting on the dream."
At this point in the season, the Buckeyes must be glad that he did not quit. His 2.0 sacks this season tie him for the team lead and he has emerged as a key contributor in a defensive line rotation that stretches nine or 10 players deep. Rose did see limited action in the season-opening game against Navy and did not record a statistic. Since then, his playing time has steadily increased.
"I'm glad that his senior season has been his breakout season," Denlinger said. "He's had a couple sacks for us and he's been a key contributor along the defensive line for us. I'm still hoping for more great things out of him."
"I know he's loving it and he got a chance to make a couple big plays on Saturday (against Indiana)," Browning said. "I know he's having fun. I love to see one of my Glenville guys get a chance to get out there and make some big plays."
Asked if he ever considered whether the prize was worth the pain, Rose offered an immediate answer.
"I never came close (to quitting)," he said. "Ever. I'm a man. I accept the consequences of what I did."