February 7, 2011

Coach: Rose has pro potential

Defensive end signee Mike Rose has admitted as much in previous interviews, but head coach Greg Porter reiterated his star's reason for choosing to run with the Wolfpack: he wants to win. That was the main reason that the scales eventually tipped towards NC State for the one-time Wake Forest commitment. The Pack finishing in the final polls at No. 25 was also a factor that had Rose amped up for the Red and White.

"Mike is coming from a program that has been losing for the past couple of years so having the chance to play somewhere with a chance to win the ACC was really an interesting option," Porter said. "It's a challenge that he is really embracing."

Porter, who was hired last January and just completed his first season at Simpsonville (S.C.) Hillcrest High, knew the terrors that opponents had to face when trying to stop Rose, who has suited up on the varsity squad since his freshman year, as a former rival at Southside High. Needless to say, Porter was ecstatic to coach a player that is of the highest caliber on and off the field this fall. Although the team went 2-9, Porter says there is light at the end of the tunnel and Rose has been a big part of what he is trying to build as a senior leader.

"When I first saw Mike, I was an opponent and I was just amazed by his size and speed," Porter recalled. "[After coaching him], I realized he has great leadership abilities. Mike is very good for the team, the other players. Where Mike goes, they go.

"When he's not working, he's home with his family. He's one of those leaders that everybody loves - he was the homecoming king. He came to speak at and support the youth recreational league football games I had at the football stadium this year. He does the little thing and I took over a program that didn't do things like that. He is a leader on and off the field."

The 6-foot-4, 220-pound prospect was ranked by Rivals.com as the No. 35 weakside defensive end in the nation and the No. 26 player in South Carolina despite playing for a struggling program that Porter is trying to build into a prep power. The three-star Rose was named the Greenville County Upstate Player of the Year as a junior, second-team all-state as a senior and tallied some jaw-dropping numbers over his final two seasons: 202 tackles, 17 sacks, eight forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and four blocked kicks. He also carried the ball as a running back, scoring eight touchdowns over that span, and has a 3.2 GPA to boot.

"He has great speed, he's real quick," Porter said. "He's 6-4, 220 or 225 pounds and can run a 4.4, 4.5 in the 40. Just being able to explode and get off the ball, I think, are some of the best things he does. He also pursues the ball well.

Porter also talked about how he felt that Rose and wide receiver signee Hakeem Flowers, one of the defensive end's good friends, helped each other in the recruiting process. He felt that, in the end, the duo wanted to play together and the Pack will reap the benefits of a talented Palmetto State tandem.

"I'm quite sure that [Mike and Hakeem's friendship] helped NC State," he said. "Hakeem is a kid that had 41 scholarship offers and could have went anywhere, he is one of the top wide receivers in the area. But he wanted to play with Mike and that's just the type of kid that Mike is."

Rose is so athletic that he has lined up at safety, running back, tight end and on special teams, in addition to his most natural fit - defensive end. His football instincts were displayed when he picked up the minute details of playing safety after only a few tries, according to the coach. However, at defensive end, Porter contends that the sky is the limit for the youngster.

"I think he has the desire to go pro," he said. "I think he has that type of ceiling if he commits to the weight room and to the coaches because he definitely has the potential to be a professional football player someday. That is the ambition he has and I think he picked the right program to achieve that goal."

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