Jumal Rolle plays cornerback for Catawba College, a Division II program playing in the South Atlantic Conference. Rolle is a prototype-sized corner at 5’11” and 187 pounds. During his junior season he registered 30 total tackles, two interceptions, 14 pass breakups, one fumble recovery and a blocked kick.
I spoke to Rolle after his third game of the season, a 35-28 loss to Newberry College. Rolle had four tackles, a fumble recovery, two interceptions, two pass breakups and a blocked kick.
In the not too distant past, smaller-school players used to have a very hard time breaking into the NFL, but times have changed and players like Rolle are getting recognized for their athletic ability, and they are getting drafted.
I asked Rolle to describe himself as a football player.
“First of all I'm going to say is that I'm very passionate about the game. I work hard, I mean all work pays off and I have witnessed it. I love the game and I have been playing it for about 13 years now”
He followed that up with more on what kind of player he is.
“I'm a very smart player I would say, I don’t want to boast or be bragging, but I'm a shutdown kind of guy. I love the, you know, love the challenge, I love a good receiver, you know, because it really brings the best out of me so I work hard at what I do and I like to shut down a receiver.”
I asked him what type of cornerback he was. Some like to play a physical style of press coverage and some like to play off in coverage and read the eyes of the quarterback and then jump the route.
“I like to disguise, I can play a cover two. Cover two gives me a heads up on reading my No. 2 receivers to see who’s coming my way or letting me know if I had to take that No. 1 guy or not. Basically all coverage really merges into man, to me honestly, because in certain respects you are going be running with that man. I mean all coverage doesn’t really last that long turns, they end up turning into man to me.”
What are you looking forward to as a senior? What do you want to put on tape for NFL people to see?
“I'm expecting to have blocked kicks and interceptions on passes and my physical play on receivers.”
When it comes to like considering the draft, what are your thoughts about the draft?
“I'm just taking one game at a time. You're not really thinking about the draft because at the end of the season, that's when it's all going to come down to it. I'm actually just trying to take care of each day, get better each day in practice and, you know, to perfect my game on Saturdays, and then if I take care of business in the game then I’ll have people taking seriously when my season’s over.”
What is the one thing that you think you do best? What is it? Are you a tackler or a ball-hawk kind of a guy? What do you think you do best?
"I feel like I am a ball hawk. I can read the two receivers coming at my periphery and my peripheral [vision] is good. I can read the receivers and I can judge the ball very well. I would just say that I’m a ball hawk”
What is the competition like where you are at down there?
“I think competition is all I make it. I try not to play to their level. I try to play higher and not just competing against my guys in practice. I try to compete as if I’m going against the nation. You know so I keep that inside of me and my challenges and the competition, its average. I think everything as if I’m competing against the nation, you know, thinking outside the box.”
What originally got you interested in playing football as a kid?
“It all started with my brothers, my brothers I would say. They would throw me the football and they would throw me the football so hard it would hit my stomach. At the time, I cried and I cried and I cried and they wouldn't let me go in until I caught, until I caught the football. So then I, I felt the interest in it when I started doing well in it.”
“You know, when they weren't around I was catching the ball around the guys that couldn't, I was already ahead of them guys so I felt like it was an advantage. I had confidence in myself that I could win, win, win and I found myself being really prepared better. Then my coaches, once I got a little older, my coaches told me how good I could be if I'd just work hard at it. And I took their words and then ran with it.”
What would you say your goals are for this season? Is there anything that stands out to you as something that you want to achieve this year personally?
“I just want to play the season with no any regrets. I want to go in each day and play my best ability. I want to have focus that I've never had before. And I just look forward to having about; my goal is to get about 10 picks. I don’t want to put a cap on it, that’s the minimum that I want.”
What type of person would an NFL team be getting in Jumal Rolle?
“Great character, hardworking and very dedicated. Most of all, coachable.”
Jumal Rolle comes from a small school but that isn’t going to stop him from showing his talent to NFL evaluators during his senior season. He has started his season incredibly well, with three interceptions, a fumble recovery and three blocked kicks through three games.
It is going to be interesting to see how his senior season plays out, and to see him work out for teams in the pre-draft process. Rolle is an interesting player to watch because of the size and speed combination, and the production that he shows on the field.
Scott Bischoff is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained first-hand or from official interview materials.