The past three years have been frustrating for Fresno State linebacker Jaamal Rose.
Rose’s seasons were cut short first because of a right ACL injury in 2012, then a left ACL injury last season.
Frustrating, to say the least, for the senior and San Jose native.
“Trying to get back out here with the team,” he said of his basic goal. “It’s hard, but I love these guys, and I’m going to do whatever it takes to help them win. Whatever that entails, I’m going to do it.”
After those serious injuries, Rose is back practicing with the Bulldogs in fall camp but admits he still has swelling in his left knee. He’s working through it, with an eye on the Sept. 3 season opener against Abilene Christian at Bulldog Stadium.
Rose is listed as a backup to Kyrie Wilson at middle linebacker on the preseason depth chart.
5 Total games for Fresno State linebacker Jaamal Rose in his ACL injury-interrupted freshman and junior seasons
“A lot of times those are career-enders for those guys,” Fresno State coach Tim DeRuyter said. “I think football is important to him. He likes being part of this team, and he’s fighting every day to have a role on this team.”
When the 2012 injury occurred against Colorado, Rose was on the punt return team and remembers “blocking my man. … I was doing pretty good.” But when he made a turn, his foot stuck into the ground and stayed there.
“My knee obviously didn’t,” he said.
Rose played in the first three games that year before the season-ending injury. He made two tackles against the Buffaloes.
He made it through 2013, playing in six games and earning the Dick Duncan Defensive Scout Team Player of the Year award. Last season, just two games in, it happened again.
Against Utah, Rose was running while tracking the ball on a kickoff and recalls “somebody came and hit me from the right, and my foot was in the ground.”
I felt the pop. I knew exactly what it was and what had happened. I knew what I had to do to attack the rehab to get back here on the field.
Fresno State inside linebacker Jaamal Rose
Experience can, at times, be painfully enlightening.
“I felt the pop,” he said. “I knew exactly what it was and what had happened. I knew what I had to do to attack the rehab to get back here on the field.”
He went back to work, drawing on what he learned following the first knee injury. But he knows the effects can linger.
“First time I did the rehab, I came back out here for the next season,” Rose said. “I was wearing a knee brace, and that kind of hindered my physicality. It hindered my change of direction.”
Defensive coordinator Nick Toth, who also works specifically with the inside linebackers, admires Rose’s resilience.
“Great toughness,” he said. “It’s hard. You want to cry with him. You work so hard, and to have an injury like that keep you from doing what you want to do, it breaks your heart, and it breaks your heart as a coach.”
Working with strength and conditioning coach Joey Boese helped Rose get back on the practice field this time.
“Boese was a tremendous help in my rehab process,” said Rose, 6-foot-2 and 228 pounds. “He was great in getting my quad back to get it firing again to squatting 405 after two ACL knee surgeries. It’s just been a great experience. … I love our rehab program here.”
Boese got an up-close look at Rose’s determination.
“A lot of guys who had a couple knee injuries, they say, ‘Hey I’m done with football. I’m going to move on to the next chapter of my life,’” Boese said. “Great character kid, and he likes the camaraderie of the team. Jaamal enjoys the process of getting ready to play. He’s a high-energy guy and a guy who makes our team better because of his presence in the locker room.”
After last year’s setback, Rose never considered quitting.
“It’s the drive,” he said. “I love the game, and I love these guys. They’re great inspiration for me to keep going. … That’s what keeps me going.”
Kickoff is approaching
- Today: Scrimmage No. 3 of fall camp
- Tuesday: Practice 22, classes start
- Sept. 3: Season opener vs. Abilene Christian at Bulldog Stadium
- Sept. 12: at No. 17 Mississippi in Oxford