Buried on the depth chart last season as a junior following a spectacular freshman and decent sophomore season, a more mature yet still athletically-gifted Rose made a tactical decision to be more disciplined on the field.
That meant freelancing less frequently, which required a deeper dive into the playbook.
“I’m good at learning the playbook,” Rose said. “I took a little step back [last season], watched the team. It just motivated me, made me more hungry to just come out and do what I have to do tho get back on the field.”
A better understanding of the playbook provided a new avenue to impress his coaches.
“I’ve got to do something to catch the coaches’ eyes – not going out there, going out of my way trying to make a big hit, hurting a teammate,” Rose said. “It’s just me. I’ve got to do everything the right way, what the coaches want, so I can get my way on the field.”
The transformation actually began last season – though last years statistics don’t indicate much progress. A nickelback during his first couple seasons, Rose moved to safety last year. Blocked by Andrew Soroh and true freshman Zyon Gilbert, Rose still played in every game last season but only recorded six tackles.
The extra studying that began while Chris Kiffin was still FAU’s defensive coordinator paid dividends once Pecoraro took over the job.
“Not playing last year, it really was a good thing for me because I was able to get into my playbook, actually sit down and focus on the playbook and get more into the team,” Rose said. “When I do get onto the field, I know my checks. I know my reads. I know what the linebackers doing, what the corners are doing. It makes it easier for me, so when the plays do come to me it looks like everything is just falling into place.”
Soroh moved to linebacker during the spring, opening for Rose a path to greater playing time. Patrolling the defensive backfield with the decisiveness of a free safety who understands where he’s supposed to be, Rose rapidly climbed the depth chart, ending spring at the top.
Rose’s spring improvement is carrying into the fall.
“He’s catching on to everything and he’s just grinding,” said starting strong safety Jalen Young, also a senior. “He’s doing everything he can.”
Armed with a better understanding of his role on the field, Rose also became a better teammate off the field. Always vocal, Rose’s words of advice now carried more than an emotional lift. They imparted insight.
“He’s taught me a couple things, showing how to work on and off the field,” Gilbert said.
Though more studious, Rose doesn’t lack aggression. Like many members of FAU’s experienced defensive unit, he now knows better what to do with his aggression.
As a freshman, relying mostly on instinct, Rose intercepted three passes and recovered two fumbles, returning three of the turnovers for touchdowns.
Rose may not ever be able to replicate the season full of big plays he collected as a freshman. How many defensive players ever manage to score three times in a single season?
But those big plays for FAU often came when Rose freelanced on defense. And when he guessed wrong, FAU paid the price by surrendering huge chunks of yardage.
With everyone around him playing more aggressively, thereby forcing quarterbacks to rush decisions, Rose should still have plenty of opportunities to capitalize opponents’ mistakes. This year, however, those big plays will come within the defensive scheme.
“Freshman year, there was probably about five, six of us playing as freshman,” Rose said. We were out there making as many plays as we could. But now we are mostly experts and the people who are playing, everybody knows what they are doing. The next person knows what they are doing. Everybody came together as one unit. It’s just a real good feeling being out there with the whole team every day.”