After a year away from football, former Florida State safety Myron Rolle will put on the helmet and pads again in a couple weeks.
For the first time ever, the Senior Bowl has invited a player to participate in the annual college all-star game that didn't play football in his senior year. And Rolle had a good reason for staying off the gridiron in 2009. For the past few months he has been following up on his Rhodes Scholarship at Oxford University (England) working to earn an M.A. in medical anthropology.
Fortunately for Rolle, his Oxford professors have allowed him to take a few weeks off this semester to pursue his other passion - football.
"I really wanted to live out both of my dreams of being a Rhodes Scholar and reaching the pinnacle of academia, and being a professional football player," Rolle said. "The opportunity that I have to play in the Senior Bowl is one that I will certainly cherish and value because NFL teams and scouts haven't seen me in a year. This will be the first time I'm on a stage with some other talented players to display my ability and show that I haven't lost any of my athleticism over the past year."
The switch in focus from academics back to football is in order to prepare for the April NFL draft.
As has been his goal since he set foot on Florida State's campus back in 2006, Rolle has set his sights on this year's draft. To prepare for the NFL's annual right of passage, Rolle understands that he must be ready physically and mentally for the pre-draft workouts and February Combine. To get in the best shape possible, he has been in Orlando the past few weeks working with strength and conditioning guru Tom Shaw.
But even before taking part in Shaw's grueling daily workouts, the former Seminole safety did his best to stay in shape even though he was 4,500 miles from Tallahassee.
"While I was in England I was staying in shape as well. Coach Shaw provided me with a booklet to train and provided me with a lot of different equipment to use in preparation," Rolle said. "I did have opportunity to work out with the rugby team as well, the blues team - the varsity squad... I think my fitness and stamina will be okay. The only thing I haven't done in a year is really hit somebody and been physical. Once I get that first hit out of my system I think it will be like normal again."
When Rolle steps on the field for the first practice on January 25th, he will see some familiar faces. Former defensive teammates Dekoda Watson and Patrick Robinson have also been invited to play in the senior bowl and FSU's Rhodes Scholar is looking forward to the reunion.
"We train every day together here in Orlando," Rolle said. "They are doing very well... We are very excited to play again with each other. We compete every day at the training facility. The chance to be on the same side of the field again is very exciting for all three of us."
When all is said and done where does Rolle expect to fall in the draft?
"I could be a second or third round pick with a good performance and strong workouts," he said.
The 2010 Under Armour Senior Bowl is scheduled for Saturday, January 30, 2010, in Mobile's Ladd-Peebles Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 3pm (CT) and it will be nationally-televised by the NFL Network.
Gene Williams is the founder and administrator of Warchant.com and writes stories and features covering all of FSU's sports with an emphasis on football and football recruiting. For seven years, Williams hosted a weekly sports radio show in Tallahassee. He currently appears as a weekly guest on 1010 XL Sports Radio in Jacksonville and 1270 The Team in Tallahassee during football season. Williams is also a former ACC correspondent for College Football News (weekly national newspaper), and contributes to The Osceola. Story about Gene Williams & Warchant.com.