April 25, 2012
This feature appeared in the Wednesday edition of K-State Sports Extra.
By Mark Janssen
The K-State football roster lists junior 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-foot-5 and 180 pounds… 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 head coach says is that Rose is running stride-for-stride alongside of senior Angelo Pease for the back-up position to Hubert, who a year ago rushed for 970 yards helping the ‘Cats to a 10-win 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, I think I can be the every down 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-foot-7-ish, 180 pound-ish 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, K-State’s all-time leading rusher.
At the time, Rose was a “huge” Florida State fan, but 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 Division I football. “At the same time you can’t listen to these naysayers. 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 showtime 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.”