The then-redshirt freshman was prodded – far earlier than any coaches hoped – into serious Big 12 playing time, the kind that is the epitome of crunch in among the nation’s toughest leagues. Now, a year older, wiser, stronger and more experienced, Rose can provide the kind of legitimate, negligible-drop-off depth major colleges thrive and feast upon.
“Isn’t that funny,” Rose said when asked about being a member of the old guard along the line despite his sophomore status. It wasn’t ha-ha funny, but rather a dark humor, the kind that arises from giving up 50-plus points four times and surrendering school records in total yardage.
“Playing in the Big 12, you aren’t going to get experience like that anywhere else,” he said. “You’re playing against the best people in the country. Anytime you get a full year of that, it’s indescribable and it helps. That first year and that first play, it doesn’t matter who you are playing in college. Division I football is different from high school or the redshirt year.”
Rose is, shockingly, the player with the third-most experience behind seniors Will Clarke and Shaq Rowell, who will start at end and nose tackle, respectively. The 6-4, 283-pounder is, of now, slated as the back-up at end and tackle, and will play nose at times in passing situations. Rose battled fellow sophomore Eric Kinsey for the starting spot at end, ultimately getting the second-team nod and becoming essentially a jack-of-all-trades, which sometimes lads to being a master of none. It’s not Rose’s first choice, but the heady, workmanlike attitude of the Ohio native serves well in that capacity.
“When you learn multiple things, it is going to help you,” Rose said. “If you’re versatile and somebody goes down, and they need you, you can get in there (anywhere) and you give a little extra edge. When you have one set position, you can give all your effort to that one position. That’s the nature of it. But when you learn all the positions, they all go hand-in-hand. We work shade techniques, we work head-up.
“I like both positions. Coming from a wrestling background in high school, I like nose because it’s more explosion, hip, hands and feet. I can shed bocks easier and you don’t get to play in space. Everything is contact. Tackle, that’s my natural position. I like any position. Anywhere they need me.”
Rose, who played in all 13 games, including his first career start against Kansas State, totaled 25 total tackles, including 14 solo, with a pair of pass break-ups. He said he feels as ready as could be expected for Saturday’s opener against William and Mary, noting that the Tribe is “coming in here with a chip on their shoulder, just like we have a chip on our shoulder. We got things to prove and they got things to prove.”