Steelers rookie aims to be both scholar and athlete


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The most talented player attending this weekend's rookie orientation is not top pick David DeCastro, who pulled on Alan Faneca's old number 66 in his first practice with the Steelers.

It is not tackle Mike Adams, their second-round pick, nor is it halfback Chris Rainey, whose coach called him the steal of the NFL draft.

The most talented player on the field Friday at the UPMC Sports Performance Complex is himself a most complex man. His name is Myron Rolle and he is a 25-year-old strong safety trying to make his first NFL roster.

Myron Rolle talks about Steelers mini-camp, medical aspirations

Myron Rolle talks about becoming a player with the Pittsburgh Steelers while planning a future in medicine. (Video by Matt Freed; 5/4/2012)

PG VIDEO

If he does, it might not rank as the most impressive item on his resume. That could be his masters degree in medical anthropology from Oxford -- the Oxford, not the University of Mississippi -- which he earned before the Tennessee Titans drafted him on the sixth round in 2010.

He also has that little humanitarian trip to the Congo, invited to be part of a group by former president Bill Clinton along with people such as Ashley Judd and Jeff Gordon.

Oh, and when Rolle's football career ends, whenever that is, he will begin medical school with the goal to be a traveling neurosurgeon.

"If it lasts 15 years, I'll start medical school when I'm an old man,'' Rolle said as he finished his first practice with the Steelers Friday.

Rolle has the size (6-2, 215), the speed (4.5), certainly the smarts, and he even has the number (Hall of Famer Mel Blount's 47). So, many scouts would like to know, what's missing? He spent the 2010 season on Tennessee's practice squad. He went through their 2011 season and was cut. He had a few tryouts before signing with the Steelers in January.

Perhaps with everything else going for the young man, football just might not be that important to him?

Oh, yes it is, he insisted.

"Oh, it's incredibly important, and I just appreciate the Steelers for giving me the opportunity to continue my football career. My athleticism, my love for the game hasn't left my body yet. And when that happens I'll give it up. Right now, I'm 100 percent committed."

He reasoned that things did not click for him in Tennessee because of the time he spent away from football studying.

"I think I was still rusty, I really do. I was coming back from Oxford and hadn't played in a year and a half. It's hard to get the rhythm of football back, especially when you're playing in the National Football League, where the best athletes play.

"I appreciate Jeff Fisher and the Titans giving me an opportunity. Now I feel I'm back in. My feet are wet, I have the calls down, I have the feel of the game again and I'm ready to go.

"It's my priority right now, it certainly is. I'm excited to be out here again, playing, learning a new system, being with a great team and just trying to keep this football dream alive. I've been playing since I was 6 and it's hard for me to get away right now."

If he does not make it in the NFL, he will never know if Oxford held him back. But then, if he opted for football instead, he might never had known if that held him back. He's shooting for the best of both.

"Oxford was amazing. I traveled a lot and met a lot of incredible people . . . I just had a great time, something I recommend to everybody. I don't regret my decision to go to Oxford.''

With his medical career at least temporarily on hold, there is opportunity for a young safety with the Steelers. Even though they have two Pro Bowlers starting, Ryan Clark will turn 33 in October and Troy Polamalu is 31. Their backups are Will Allen, 30 in June, and the kid of the bunch, 27-year-old Ryan Mundy.

"I like the situation, I like my chances if I perform and do what I'm supposed to do,'' said Rolle, cousin of former Titans and Ravens defensive back Samari Rolle, who also played at Florida State. "I know there is a lot asked of the safeties here, there's a lot asked of players in general here. I'm just looking forward to meeting that standard , and once I do that, hopefully I put myself in position to earn a spot."

Even if he does not make it in football, there is overwhelming evidence that Myron Rolle will earn a spot somewhere.

NOTES -- Rookie offensive tackle Desmond Stapleton failed his physical. The Steelers replaced him with guard Corey Balcerzak, a rookie guard from St. John Fisher College . . . Rookie linebacker Sean Spence wore James Farrior's old number, 51, and rookie tackle Mike Adams wore Chris Hoke's old number, 76.

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First Published May 4, 2012 11:30 AM


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