WVU’s Rose Looking to Blossom This Year

Defensive lineman confident in unit despite the critics


MORGANTOWN — “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

William Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet brought this phrase to fame, but it could be West Virginia’s Exekiel Rose who could make his name a household word as the junior college transfer attempts to lead a Mountaineers defensive line weakened by several defections during the off season.

“We most definitely will be one of the most dominating D-lines in the country,” Rose said. “We have to be.”

The former East Mississippi Community College starting defensive tackle’s comments were in response to being asked why so many football analysts around the country were picking the Mountaineers defense to again be among the worst in the Big 12.

“We really don’t pay much attention (to what analysts say) because we know what we can do,” Rose said. “We know what we bring to the table and we try and just use that for fuel for the fire to keep us going.”

The 275-pound Clarksdale, Miss., native gave fans a taste of what they can expect to witness when he was named WVU’s Mr. Unselfish following a senior campaign which saw him finish with 23 tackles, including 19 solo stops, a team-leading 4.5 sacks, two pass breakups, one interception and a forced fumble.

“When I first got here I didn’t like the cold at all,” Rose said. “I got here and wore like four jackets every time I walked out the house and two pair of sweat pants. But, like, I really enjoy the atmosphere. People are like ‘you play football?’ ‘You Ezekiel Rose?’ And, I was like excited a little bit. Meeting new people, seeing new places, I’ve got a lot of new friends. It is amazing.”

And a big reason why Rose elected to return to Morgantown for his redshirt senior season.

“Yes, I feel like the defensive line is going to spark the defense a lot. Like, we are going to have energy, we are going to bring something new on every play.”

There is good reason for Rose’s optimism.

“In the rotation I can see nine, no make that eight,” Rose said. “I see eight rotating back and forth, no I can see nine, just rotating. Man, that breather is going to be just lovely. The first and second team really need that breather from, I don’t want to say third team, but they are really good athletes. If they were anywhere else, they would probably be first or second team, too. The way the rotation is the way Coach (Bruce) Tall sees it. I just like the energy that comes in behind me.

“I see me, (USC transfer) Kenny (Bigelow Jr.), then either Reese (Donohue) or (Clemson University transfer) Jabril (Robinson). Then, Darius (Stills), I see Jeff Pooler, I see Stone Wolfley, I see Dante (Stills), who else? I can see some of the young guys. (Freshman) James Gmiter, I see him coming in a little bit and probably Tyrese (Allen).”

If Rose’s hopes becomes truths then WVU’s three-man front could prove to be a force Mountaineers fans can count upon.

“I really don’t have to worry about when they come in onto the field,” Rose said. “I’ll come off and see who is coming in and I’ll say, ‘Okay, we good.’ I’ll see what play coach has called and I’ll say, ‘he’s got it.’ I don’t even have to watch the play to know that they are mentally sound and that they know what’s going on.”

Sweeter words, at least to Mountaineers fans, have never been spoken.


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