Robert Rose had trouble sleeping the night before Kansas State’s spring game.
With starting running back John Hubert sidelined because of an undisclosed injury (he could be seen walking with a limp), Rose, a seldom-used senior, knew he was going to receive the bulk of the carries for the Purple Team. Rose took advantage of the opportunity by rushing for 141 yards and a touchdown on 17 touches.
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His best run came on a 33-yard gain up the left side, but he looked good all afternoon against K-State’s overmatched second-string defense. Rose has played well in the spring game before, but he thinks this performance was a sign of things to come. He expects to take on a bigger role next season.
“I sure hope so. That would be great,” Rose said. “But I will just keep improving, go back and look at the spring game. Even though I did some things well I feel like I could have done some things better. Just go back and look at film and look and see what I can improve on and use this summer to propel me to a situation where I can say, ‘Now I feel like I should be playing somewhere in this offense.’ And they will fit me in the offense.”
The most logical fit for Rose in K-State’s offense is as a backup running back. Rose, a 5-foot-4, 176-pound speedster, isn’t a threat to push a healthy Hubert for playing time. But the competition for his primary backup is wide open.
Redshirt freshman Jarvis Leverett and junior DeMarcus Robinson should factor into the discussion, but they both missed the spring game. For now, Rose seems to have an edge.
Questions remain about his size, but Rose thinks he uses it to his advantage.
“I am aerodynamic. I get guys in situations where they have to arm tackle me and that’s what my shiftiness can do sometimes,” Rose said. “I am strong in my lower body, so I can break through those guys when they try to arm tackle me. No one really ever gets a square hit on me.”
Hubert isn’t much taller at 5-7, but he has a different running style than Rose.
Together, Rose thinks they can become a formidable running back duo.
“I think it could be tremendous. We could be one of the best in the country, to be honest,” Rose said. “He has two years under his belt as the starting running back. I feel like our games are so different. John is a great downhill runner where I’m more of a slash-type guy. I feel like we mesh pretty well together. We give defenses fits, because they don’t really know how to gameplan for both of us.”