Miami can be counted upon for a lot of things--abundant sunshine, great stone crabs and, these days, game-breaking defensive backs. The latest in a line that includes former Hurricanes safeties Ed Reed and Sean Taylor is Antrel Rolle, a cornerback and sometime safety whose instincts and athleticism should have NFL teams jockeying for his services next spring.
In Miami's season opener against Florida State last Friday, a Rolle-led defense helped the Hurricanes overcome a 10--0 deficit and rally for a 16--10 win. In the tradition of Reed and Taylor, Rolle was best when it counted most. Two of the senior's three tackles for loss--an 11-yard sack of Rix and a ferocious takedown of tailback Lorenzo Booker eight yards behind the line of scrimmage--came during Florida State's final five offensive series.
Two months ago Miami coaches weren't sure whether Rolle would play against the Seminoles. On July 11 he was arrested after an incident that began when an unidentified male pounded on Rolle's car while the cornerback was driving down a street in Miami. An argument ensued between the man and Rolle, but when police arrived, the man had left the scene and Rolle continued to shout in frustration. Police arrested Rolle for disorderly conduct and resisting an officer without violence. Rolle, who denied all the charges, was suspended from the football team until mid-August, when the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office dropped the case. "He came out of it hungrier than ever," says secondary coach Tim Walton. "He used it to talk to the team about believing in yourself and fighting for yourself."
The day after his arrest Rolle opened his locker to discover a Bible with his name on a label but no card. As he packed up his gear late Friday, he still had the book peeking out of his gym bag. Rolle then loudly dispensed some words of inspiration to a few young teammates within earshot: "The way this defense played tonight, I have no doubt we'll be [playing] for the national championship." --Kelley King