Scholarly Seminole (cont.)
To further his education, Myron's parents sent him to a pair of New Jersey boarding schools for high school. As he became a sought-after recruit during his junior year at The Hun School in Princeton -- receiving a reported 57 scholarship offers and becoming the top-rated prospect in the country by some publications -- Rolle began taking campus visits. Coaches quickly learned to tailor their pitch to appeal to Myron's academic interests.
Only Florida State, however, dedicated the first day of Rolle's two-day visit entirely to non-football subjects. He toured the medical school, met with Wetherell and provost Lawrence Abele and spoke with both Johnson, who had just begun the Rhodes application process, and Purcell.
Considering Florida State's reputation as a "party school," recruiting followers were surprised when, just before the start of his senior season, Rolle chose FSU over more esteemed universities such as Michigan and Penn State. But the school laid out a plan that would allow Rolle, who entered college with an astounding 22 advanced placement credits, to achieve his long-term plan of graduating in three years, playing in the NFL and, ultimately, attending med school.
"Whether you go to Princeton University or Florida State University, it's how hard you work," said Rolle. "The same material is being taught at both schools, and if you push yourself to take honors courses, you really challenge yourself intellectually."
Upon enrolling at Florida State in January 2006, Rolle soon found out just how difficult it is to manage both ventures.
Rolle, a hard-hitting rover with a linebacker's body, arrived in Tallahassee amidst enormous expectations and wasted no time living up to the billing. He made his debut in the Seminoles' nationally televised season opener against Miami, became a starter the fourth week of the season and finished third on the team with 77 tackles, earning recognition as the ACC's defensive newcomer of the year.
His sophomore season last fall did not go as smoothly.
"He had an outstanding year for a freshman, but was kind of average year last year," said longtime FSU defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews. "He wasn't as productive in terms of coming up with big plays, and he gave up more big plays than we wanted."
In a sport where players are expected to train year-round, Rolle may have fallen slightly behind when, in the spring of 2007, he chose to pursue another one of his academic dreams: Spending six weeks studying abroad in London. While the 'Noles had finished spring practice by the time he departed in May, Rolle missed the beginning of summer workouts with his teammates.
Johnson, who by then was studying at Oxford, helped Myron find locations to train, but, "there's no coach here, the facilities aren't the best and you don't have a training partner," said Johnson, who continued to compete in international events during his two years there while training for the recent Olympic trials. "Also, Oxford's a great place, but the weather sucks here."
Upon returning to Tallahassee, Rolle took a large summer course load to continue his accelerated degree track. Then came the fall, and classes like Logan's, which "many pre-meds tell me is the hardest class they have to take," said the professor. Other courses in Rolle's major require lab work that occasionally forces him to miss meetings or workouts.
"Sometimes I do think about how, if I wasn't a football player and I had more time to meet with my teachers, I could be a 4.0, cum laude student," said Rolle. "And if I wasn't a serious student and could put 95 percent of my time into football, there are so many more things I could do on the football field."
In individual meetings after last season, Andrews urged Rolle to treat football preparation with the same intensity he does his schoolwork.
"I asked him, how much time did you spend watching tape of Florida the week we played them compared to how much time you take to prepare for a chemistry exam?" said Andrews. "He didn't prepare [for the games] like he was trying to get an A. The message hit home. I saw a much more focused guy in the spring."
Rolle has shed five pounds since the spring and improved his 40 time to within a 4.5 range. He's been plenty busy with other endeavors as well.
He spends his mornings in Logan's lab, conducting research on the connection between energy metabolism and protein synthesis rates, a project with potential implications for stem-cell and cancer-cell research. Florida State awarded him an Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity Award, providing a $4,000 grant to conduct the study. He's completing his final undergraduate classes and will graduate Aug. 9.
In addition, Wetherell approached Rolle about working with the Seminole Tribe of Florida. In a project befitting his career interests, Rolle will spend several days later this month at a charter school on the tribe's reservation near Lake Okeechobee, Fla., teaching fifth graders about diabetes, obesity and other health-related issues. The children will be divided into teams and compete for points, and the winning team will get introduced on the field at FSU's Oct. 25 game against Virginia Tech.
And then there's the Rhodes Scholarship.