17 May 2012
Brian Rolle was a four-year letterman at The Ohio State University, starting at middle linebacker his junior and senior years. Remember the Buckeyes opening up against Navy in '09, with the Midshipment taking it down to the wire before Ohio State closed them out? With 2:23 remaining Navy lined up at Ohio State's three yard line for a two-point conversation attempt that would have tied the game and had Buckeye Nation in a collective state of shock. Instead Rolle picked off the Ricky Dobbs pass and streaked 99 yards to give the Buckeyes the final 2 points of the afternoon and sealing a 31-27 opening weekend win.
That was just the start of what would be a fantastic final two seasons in Scarlet and Gray for Rolle, a junior and senior year that would ultimately earn him a spot playing on Sundays.
Brian would close out his Ohio State career, after his 2010 senior season, with 206 career tackles, 3 1/2 sacks as a mike linebacker and 4 interceptions - including a pick-six his senior year. He was one of the last Buckeyes to enjoy a Senior Day (pictured below) with former head coach Jim Tressel, but that didn't mark the end of the relationship.
The Immokalee, FL native was drafted 193rd overall by the Philadelphia Eagles in the 2011 NFL Draft, marking the official end to his Ohio State career, but leaving Coach Tressel and the Buckeyes behind was only figurative. The relationships built between coach and player is normally a pretty tight bond, especially at the collegiate level, but as you'll see it's a whole different game when that coach is Jim Tressel. That's a relationship that lasts a lifetime...
BHC: What was your favorite Ohio State tradition? Don't tell me you don't catch yourself wanting to go to the south stands at The LINC and sing Carmen Ohio after games...
Brian: Haha my favorite tradition would have to be hoot and holler. Offense and defense battling each other and just bonding that first day in pads. And you get to see who wants to hit.
BHC: How did it feel to be a part of the strong linebacker tradition at OSU, and who is your favorite of all time?
Brian: I feel honored to be mentioned as a strong LB to come out of OSU. Thinking of guys like James Laurinaitis, Chris Spielman, Gradishar - it's amazing I'm considered to be as good as they are and have impacted the program in the same way. I would have to say James L is my all time favorite. Not only because I played with him but because of his work ethic. He wouldn't be out-worked by anyone and he may not have been the fastest or quickest but he made up for it with knowledge.
BHC: What separated Coach Tressel from all the other coaches who recruited you out of high school?
Brian: Coach Tress just seemed REAL. A very genuine guy and he didn't just talk football, he talked about bettering his players as men,to be productive citizens and that's what intrigued me.
BHC: Give me your favorite Jim Tressel story - funny, serious or otherwise…
Brian: I remember after winning the Rose Bowl coach dancing in the locker room haha. It was a sight to see.
Brian: He was/is a very respectable and caring individual and he's genuine.
BHC: What was the biggest thing you learned, football or otherwise, playing for Jim Tressel?
Brian: I learned that you have to do the small things right. 'Not just on the field' is what coach taught us. To be great at anything - focusing on small things that most people overlook - that's what separates the good from the great.
BHC: How did things that you learned from Coach Tressel impact your life over the past 15 months, given the controversy you had to go through?
Brian: Well going through the draft process and a rough rookie season I learned that once you hone in on doing the little things right you'll be successful.
BHC: Do you still keep in touch with Coach Tressel?
Brian: We still text each other, and we're buddies for life.
BHC: What do you miss about having Tress in your life on a daily basis?
Brian: I just miss his overall presence as a person. When coach Tress is around it isn't like most coaches where you have to get uptight because he was like one of the guys and that's why he was so successful. He created a family atmosphere in the locker room and didn't look down on his players.
BHC: What do you miss most about tOSU Football?
Brian: I miss everything about OSU football - the people, relationships, the hive, camp, Coach Fick telling us to get our heads out of our butts lol. But most of all the fans on game day walking through skull session.
BHC: Given just one word to describe Jim Tressel, which would you chose?
Editor's Note: We want to extend a very special Thank You to Brian Rolle for taking the time to knock out this Q&A with us. He was respectful from the start and jumped at the opportunity to talk about a great man. The respect he has for Coach Tressel shows through his choice of words, and it's a respect you'll hear out of most every young man that's played under the coach we simply called 'The Vest.'
We also want to wish Brian the best of health and luck this upcoming season, his second with the Philadelphia Eagles.
*Tressel/Rolle photo courtesy Jim Davidson and The-Ozone