Hi Guys, It's Brian Rolle

By Johnny Ginter on September 9, 2010 at 4:00p

For several years now, Brian Rolle has been one of my favorite Ohio State players, because he epitomizes the kind of football player that I really enjoy watching: undersized, tough, smart, and a nonstop motor powered by pure rock fury. Even when I was just a regular commentator on Eleven Warriors, I had always thought that it would be really fun to do a profile on the guy (and more specifically, his recruitment and early career). And as other people have begun pointing out, Brian has strong ties to southern Florida, so this week is as good a time as any for a short and at times very strange biography of the man who currently wears number 36 for the Scarlet and Gray.

Our story begins in the summer of 2006, where a senior at Immokalee High School who plays both linebacker and fullback will lead his team in a rampage through their schedule, going undefeated as he racks up huge numbers on the ground and on defense. He is a fast, small, and tenacious one man wrecking crew, and though the Indians will finish 10-0 that year, for Brian Rolle and his teammates, that's it. They will have outscored their opponents 399-36, but they won't get a chance to repeat their championship season of 2004. Because Immokalee fielded an ineligible player, kicker Blandel Jean who had appeared in four games the previous year, the Indians are banned from postseason play. So what did Blandel do? Was he an ineligible transfer? Were his grades bad? Did he take money somehow?

Nope, nope, and nope. Brian and his teammates will be banned from the playoffs because Blandel was 30 years old.

Fast forward to the end of the season. In a few days Immokalee will win their last game and Brian Rolle will have played the last game of his high school career. But instead of pouting or mourning the end of a season unfulfilled, Brian does the exact opposite of that. He makes it rain.

The hip-hop sounds of Fat Joe and Lil' Wayne pumped through a pair of mini speakers in the tight Immokalee locker room following Wednesday night's practice. Indians captain Brian Rolle, standing center stage in the middle of the room, busted out the chorus. And his teammates followed on cue.

Grab an umbrella. I make it rain. I make it rain

Not surprisingly, during this time period Brian is attracting quite a bit of attention on the recruiting front, primarily from Ohio State, Wisconsin, and Florida (in a weird quirk, or at least it seems weird now, Rolle will also be recruited by LSU as a tailback). A Miami fan growing up, understandable since Immaokalee is only about 40 miles away (bienvenido a Miami), Rolle will wait for an offer from the Hurricanes that will never come. Instead he will lean toward Ohio State, and make a verbal commitment to the Buckeyes in December. Sadly, that decision will be made in the aftermath of a horrible event: the death of Rolle's girlfriend, Joylisa, in an auto accident.

I really can't imagine what kind of month December of 2006 was like for Brian Rolle. In the middle of making one of the most important decisions of his life, he now has to handle one of the worst experiences of his life. I don't know how Brian dealt with it, but I can tell you how I would've: not well. So given the circumstances it is completely understandable that reports started to come in about Brian wavering on this commitment, with various people saying Wisconsin or Florida was now his destination. A lot of Buckeye fans are understandably worried, or at least until this post originating from Immokalee High School shows up on the BuckeyePlanet forums:

And that's that.


Special teams is, on many teams (including Ohio State), often seen as a proving ground for younger players. When Brian Rolle arrived on campus he already had a reputation as a hard hitter with a nonstop motor, but Ohio State isn't a place where someone can get by on high school reputation alone. Which brings me to September 22nd, 2007, which is probably the date most of us first heard about Brian Rolle. Playing on special teams against Northwestern, Rolle was a holy terror, knocking Northwestern players silly on two huge highlight reel worthy hits. Here's one of them.

This particular hit actually knocked the player out of the game, and Brian would later say that it was the biggest hit of his life. As a fan in the stands watching the hit, I can tell you that it was definitely the highlight of an otherwise boring afternoon of football. In any case, to paraphrase LL Cool J, after September 22nd OSU fans knew what to expect out of this guy on the football field; destruction, terror, and mayhem.

We all know what happens next. Brian eventually fights his way to the top of the depth chart, and proves his worth by finishing second on the team in tackles in 2009 and making big play after big play, including saving our bacon against Navy in the opener. He is then voted as one of the captains for the 2010 season, and as the MLB, is the quarterback of the defense. So to wrap this up, I want to close with some excerpts from an article Ken Gordon wrote in the Dispatch about Brian shortly after his commitment. It does him and his story way more justice than I can, and gives a pretty good summation about what this guy is about:

... Carolyn Hines (everyone called her "Joylisa") died in a single-car crash Dec. 4. She and Rolle had been dating for about six months, and she was a light in Rolle's life. Her obituary described Hines as, "Vibrant, bright, vivacious, energetic!"

"I'm still not over it," Rolle said. "I've got to accept the fact, but it's hard when you're used to something and all of a sudden it's gone. How do you adapt to that?"


Rolle [recently told a class of fifth graders that] he once was headed down the wrong path in life. Growing up poor, one of seven children, he described himself as a "menace" in middle school. A menace?

"Probably more than that," he admits. "I got into a crowd with the wrong bunch of kids and just followed them."

His juvenile antics landed him in an "alternative" middle school. Around that time, his older brother William accepted a football scholarship to Illinois State, the first person in the family to go to college. Brian took notice. "That made me think," he said. "We both grew up the same, and I said, 'I'm smarter than he was, so if my brother can do it, anybody can."

Immokalee coach John Weber said when Brian got to high school, "He just totally turned his whole personality around, became an 'A' student and is a 'Yes sir, no sir' kind of guy."


"I feel I need to get away," he said. "I know a lot of my friends who go to (college in) Florida, and it's easy for them to just jump in the car and be home if something happens. Being so far away, I'm not going to be able to drive home if something goes wrong. It will make me stronger to deal with it on my own."

And he won't consider himself entirely alone, anyway. The memory of Joylisa remains very real.

"When I fly up (to Ohio State), I should just buy two plane tickets," Rolle told the Fort Myers (Fla.) News-Press, "because she's coming with me."

So that's Brian Rolle. Since this guy walked into high school he has been destined to be a leader and a force on the football field. He is a guy who willed himself to become a better student and person, who is a vocal and passionate football player, who had to overcome great adversity to reach Ohio State, and is one of the most important members of one of the best collegiate defenses in the country. Rolle works hard, hits hard, and is exactly the kind of guy you want on your team as a captain.

NFL take notice, haters get out, opponents beware. Brian Rolle is awesome, and will never give you up, or let you down. The end.


Comments Show All Comments

BuckNut's picture

Great article as always!!

Anyone know what the view from 3B is like. I have tickets for Saturday row 15 3B...seem a little blocked, can someone let me know?

O-line is they key. They protect, we run the ball we win, sets up Pryor's big day!

JoshAlum's picture

I sat in 3A for the Marshall game. 3B you should be fine, be like looking down on the field from a videogame perspective. The southern half of the field is far away, but you're looking at the scoreboard deadon.

blazers34's picture

Awesome, awesome write up.

Is it Saturday Yet's picture

Fantastic job!  I didn't know most of that backstory stuff about Rolle other than him wanting to play for the U when he was younger.  Good stuff.

Buckeyeholicwompa's picture

I work at the airport. I'm pretty sure I saw Rolle there last sunday around noon. I was pretty close to him but our walking paths didn't cross and I didn't wanna shout out his name and tell him nice interception the other night. Don't wanna bring attention to someone in public like that. Dreadocks, red shorts, an OSU bowl book bag, and walking at a fast pace outside claim to a car picking him up. Had to be him.

Towle_'s picture

"...the man who currently wears number 36 for the Scarlet and Gray." (my italics)

This phrasing is a tad awkward/ambiguous. Of course, your intent is to differentiate between Rolle and Spielman (among others). But syntactically, you could just as easily be saying that Rolle has worn other numbers in the past and/or will do so in the future. I might recommend something along the lines of "the current wearer of the  number 36" or "the heir to Chris Spielman's legendary number 36" or "the man who wears number 36 for the Buckeyes' defense." Whatever, you get the point.

P.S.-- Feel free to delete my post whether or not you decide to edit the post. No need to sacrifice the harmony of the comments section to accommodate syntax assholes like me.

twitter: @Towle_

Johnny Ginter's picture


Bucksfan's picture

That's one of the worst nitpicks of all time.  I'll explain why:  Let's take the phrase, "The sky is blue today."  According to you logic, you'd find that confusing because it implies the sky can be some other color than blue.  Everyone knows it means the sky is clear, and not cloudy or rainy.  And everyone knows that indeed the sky can be orange in the morning and evenings.  But the statement is no more true or less ambiguous if you delete the word "today."

Poe McKnoe's picture

for realz, grammar nazi.

dan_isaacs's picture

Yes, as resident Math Nazi, I agree.  That was a lame critique.

Dan Isaacs

Brady's picture



SonOfBuckeye's picture

As a fellow grammar nazi I feel empathy for you, but Johnny wasn't ambiguous.  The 11W guys have day jobs and write in their spare time, so it's unfair to ding them for not obsessively editing out every unnecessary word.

If you want to go nuts, read EDSBS.  I doubt Spencer has ever re-read a single post before hitting "publish."

TommyWayne's picture

Definitely an enjoyable read!  Awesome info on Rolle, and all the more reason to respect his person as well as play!

Morgan's picture

hey guys its brian rolle lolz

BornBuckeye's picture

Great post, had no idea about his past outside of initially wanting to play for the U.  Truly a quality young man - easy to understand why he is a fan favorite and team captian.

Buckeyebrowny919's picture

"That being said, we don’t see how Ohio State can match Miami’s speed and athleticism."

translation: "drrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrp"


anybody read the prediction thing over in good shizzy?

To give anything less than your best, is to sacrifice the gift - Steve Prefontaine

Buckeyebrowny919's picture

buckshots i mean..drrrrrp myself...

To give anything less than your best, is to sacrifice the gift - Steve Prefontaine

Matthew's picture

Good article.


Srsly LOL @ the thought of people IP Tracing that post or whatever. :)

Class of 2010

Johnny Ginter's picture

that seriously did happen, one of the administrators at buckeyeplanet checked it out (it isn't at all hard to get IP info)

BuckeyeSki's picture


Banned from BlackShoeDiaries since 2008. Crime: Slander/Defamation of Character Judgement: Guilty

Brady's picture

Good article on Rolle. Now go out there Saturday and show the Canes what a mistake they made by not recruiting you.


JakeBuckeye's picture

"When predicting outcomes, we don’t wear orange and green goggles.  That being said, we don’t see how Ohio State can match Miami’s speed and athleticism."

Doesn't get much more contradictory than that right there.

JakeBuckeye's picture

These guys are such idiots.

They have no clue who they are playing on Saturday. Ugh, I just get so frustrated reading these things.

KenK's picture

jesus, what an a-hole. The Miami Hubris knows no bounds.

Johnny Hooker: "He's not as tough as he thinks". Henry Gondorff: "Neither are we".

blazers34's picture

jesus those are some cocky people.  maybe my scarlet tinted glass have blinded me, but i havent seen any OSU bloggers acting that way.  fans, sure.  but not bloggers or writers (is there REALLY a difference?)

KenK's picture

More importantly, a tip o' the hat to Brian Rolle for overcoming a nasty childhood to be the man he is today.. Well done, young man.

Johnny Hooker: "He's not as tough as he thinks". Henry Gondorff: "Neither are we".

buckeyedude's picture

I know this is off subject, but does anybody know where to get a link to the Miami/FAMU fight in the stands? I think YouTube may have pulled it for some strange reason.



SouthBayBuckeye's picture

it wasn't nearly as cool as the fight on the 50 yard line that miami was involved in.

Banned from ATO since June 3rd 2PMish PST

BTwrestle04's picture

No, he is talking about the fight that occured between fans during the Florida A&M game. Typical "The U" thugs...

tOSU_nicole's picture

Oh that one- (if there's more than one to point to, that's embarrassing)


buckeyedude's picture

yes, that is the one, Nicole. YouTube pulled the video. Must all be Canes fans and don't want to give bad press about their fans.  Thanks for trying.



flipbuckeye's picture

Great, great, great article.

I had no idea about the backstory of B-Rolle. I am now an even bigger fan of this hedgehog.

BigRedBuckeye's picture

Jeebus. The problem with this D is I can't decide who my favorite player is! These back stories! The terrorizing DE who, despite being a sure fire First Round NFL pick, and despite growing up as the son of an NFL great, is modest to a fault, and, by all representations, an extremely well spoken, put-together young man. The hard-hitting, instinctive, blitzing STAR hybrid terror who overcame a sucker punch to the head and ensuing life-threatening coma, only to come back and show us that he "may be white" but he's fast", and brutal, I might add. Or the Hedgehog, growing up poor and running with the wrong crowd, but making a decision as a very young man to change the path he was walking on (not because he was forced to, but because he wanted to), spurned by his local team, despite his allegiance, overcoming the death of his HS sweetheart to become a wrecking ball of hedgehog fury and a senior Co-Captain?

Next your going to tell me that Jermale Hines is actually an Iraqi War veteran with 11 purple hearts to his name, and Ross Homan moonlights as a nationally renowned children's cancer surgeon.

And we'll drink to old Ohio, 'Til we wobble in our shoes! 

Poe McKnoe's picture

Next your going to tell me that Jermale Hines is actually an Iraqi War veteran with 11 purple hearts to his name, and Ross Homan moonlights as a nationally renowned children's cancer surgeon.

You got it backwards.  Hines is surgeon and Homan in the veteran.

SouthBayBuckeye's picture

Actually Jermale Hines punched Tim Tebow in the face over the summer. New fav player?

Banned from ATO since June 3rd 2PMish PST