Villanova ready to Rolle
It looks like Villanova will have another great football team this season. The Wildcats are ranked No. 10 in the STATS FCS Preseason Top 25.
And one of the reasons why Villanova has been successful is the number of terrific players who have played in the Wildcats’ football program. This year, Villanova has a big-time player with senior safety Rob Rolle, who was named the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) Preseason Defensive Player of the Year. Roll was also named to the Buck Buchanan Award Watch List. This award is given to the best defensive player in FCS football.
Mark Ferrante, a longtime assistant coach, takes over the Villanova program in his first year as head coach. Ferrante was an assistant under legendary head coach Andy Talley for 30 years. Ferrante has seen a lot of great players over the years. He feels Rolle is a special player.
“Rob makes plays,” Ferrante said. “He’s that tall, rangy, athletic safety. He’s our quarterback back there. He makes all the calls. If they change strength or come out unbalance. He’s going to be the point guy to get all the secondary guys lined up.
“Rob’s a great person. Rob is a great communicator He gives back a lot. I don’t know where he finds the time to do as much as he does with the time that we ask him to put into the sport plus his studies and all the other things as far as his summer internships and his volunteering for things, but he’s a preseason All-American. The coaches in our league picked him as preseason defensive player of the year.
“He’s been real level-headed about it. He just comes out and goes to work every day and tries to get better. If he continue to make the strides that he’s made since he’s been here than he’ll be a guy to be reckoned with in the secondary.”
Rolle, a former Delsea High School product, was a scholastic standout in South Jersey. He helped lead the Wildcats to a 9-4 overall and a 6-2 record in the CAA last year, which included an appearance in the FCS playoffs where they got to the second round. The defense played extremely well. Rolle feels the defense will be a factor again this season.
“We lost a couple key guys, but the guys we have coming in are just as good,” Rolle said. “They’re young on the D-line, but with our defense and the way we play football no matter the scheme is we just buy in. If that means there is a game where I have five tackles and the linebackers have 20 that’s what it has to be.”
Rolle made a lot of plays last season. He had 63 total tackles and seven interceptions, which led the FCS. Rolle is a real student of the game. He gears his style of play after Arizona Cardinals safety Tyrann Mathieu.
“Tyrann Mathieu is one of my favorite players,” Rolle said. “how he takes on the game, his mental aspect, how he handled adversity off the field. No matter what happens, he’s around the football. He’s not the biggest or strongest guy on the field, but he’s always around the ball and changing the game.”
Villanova will visit Lehigh on Saturday in its season opener in Bethlehem at 12:30 p.m. Rolle will have a chance to showcase his skills in this early matchup.