Making His Mark

West Virginia's defense had just seen a 10-point lead disappear in the final three minutes of regulation in Fort Worth.

Needing a spark heading into overtime, the defense hit the field first and the Mountaineers found their playmaker who was able to take center stage to kickstart the 30-27 overtime victory.

Sophomore Kyle Rose, earning his second-straight start and fourth of the season, was that player. Rose made tackles on each of TCU's first two plays of the extra period - getting into the backfield and taking down Waymon James for a six-yard loss on the Horned Frogs' first play from scrimmage.

With West Virginia's back against the wall, Rose brought the mentality the Mountaineers needed out on the field for that critical possession. It was a mindset that the Centerville, Ohio, native didn't pick up on the football field but on the wrestling mat.

Before coming to WVU, Rose was a heavyweight wrestler at Centerville High School and won a state championship as a senior.

"Both sports are pretty similar for sure. Not only are they physical, but there's a lot of the mental aspect to it," Rose said. "You definitely have to work through a lot of things and keep pushing when things aren't going your way. It's that way in sports, and it's that way in life. You've got to just roll with it and keep going."

Rose has emerged for the West Virginia defense this season as a person the coaching staff can lean on to do a lot of things and be one of the more versatile players on the defensive line. He has played at all three spots on the line in the Mountaineers' first nine games of the year.

"We like playing him at nose and the end. It just depends on the personnel," said defensive line coach Erik Slaughter. "When you don't get double teamed, and you're getting zone blocked, he can play the nose and be effective. Then when they want to run power and knock him off the ball, he's not quite as productive and that's when we move him back (to the end). He's played great."

But, since the Mountaineers have been able to settle Rose into a bigger role at defensive end, defensive coordinator Keith Patterson said he has seen a big jump in the sophomore's production.

This season Rose has 35 tackles, 7.5 of which have been for a loss, and a sack.

"He's given us a toughness that is kind of contagious," Patterson said. "We've tried to limit (moving him around to different positions), and that's why I think you've seen him continue to get better and better. We quit trying to expect too much from him and it's really helped him."

For Rose, it's just about going out and doing the things his team needs him to do whenever he is called upon.

He doesn't worry himself with what position they put him at or what the situation is, he wants to go out and go to work the way he would any other time.

"I just try to take everything a day at a time," Rose said. "The success will come and that work pays off."

And that attitude has been something his teammates have noticed over the course of the season.

With Rose having two years left at WVU, seeing the way he's playing now, they don't see any reason why he couldn't really begin to emerge as a major force on the Mountaineer defense in the very near future.

"He's probably the most underrated player on this team," said fellow defensive lineman Shaq Rowell. "Seriously, I think next year he will be the most dominating player on this defense. He's going to have a lot of experience."


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