myron rolle

GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP - Myron Rolle expected to head to Galloway Township early Saturday afternoon for a celebration at the Smithville Inn.

But around 3 p.m., when Rolle should have been getting ready to leave, he was still waiting to hear his name called in the 2010 NFL draft.

He wasn't going anywhere.

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Finally, with the 38th and final pick of the sixth round, the Tennessee Titans selected the Florida State safety around 3:15 p.m. Rolle heads to Nashville, Tenn., on Thursday with an enormous sense of relief.

"It was hard to digest," said Rolle, 23, who grew up in Galloway Township, but went to The Hun School in Princeton for most of high school. "I expected to go in the third day, but early in the third day. Then to see other draft picks selected in front of me was tough, especially guys at my position who were ranked lower than me by different scouting services. That challenged me."

He thought of potential reasons why he dropped to the 207th overall pick and then stopped torturing himself. He took his mind off the situation by watching a comedy and taking a 30-minute nap.

"I was thinking of ways to explain why this was happening, " Rolle said. "Maybe they thought I was not committed to football. Maybe they thought it would take me two or three years to get back into the groove. Maybe they just didn't like my film. I tried to keep it in my mind, though, this is going to happen. This is going to work. "

Ten minutes after he awoke, Rolle's phone rang with a number he didn't know. It was Titans coach Jeff Fischer.

Waiting was the most difficult part, especially since Rolle, his family and friends thought he would go earlier. He and his family never expected to sit around their Yardley, Pa., home with cameras in their faces capturing their agonizing looks.

"My brother would twist and turn in the chair," Rolle said. "My dad would get upset and storm out of the room. Looking at that I was thinking, 'I didn't want to disappoint my family so to make all this better, just call my name.' "

However, hours later those tense moments were wiped away. Rolle's father Whitney, 59, sat along the wall at the Smithville Inn on New York Road in Galloway Township. He soaked in the atmosphere with about 30 friends and former neighbors.

He wasn't upset now. Not with that smile plastered on his face.

But earlier, Whitney was angry.

He didn't understand if the choice to go study at Oxford University on a Rhodes Scholarship hurt his son's NFL future. The scholarship forced Rolle to spend a year away from the game.

Many NFL experts thought if Rolle entered last year's draft he would have likely been selected in the first three rounds.

"What parent is going to tell their child not to take the Rhodes Scholarship?" Whitney said. "That's going to open doors that you didn't even know existed. Thirty years from now people are going to say, 'There's Myron Rolle the Rhodes Scholar' not 'Myron Rolle the football player.' "

Around Galloway, many families dealt with similar emotions. Thomas Balmer, Rolle's youth football coach and family friend, kept in touch with Rolle over the years. Balmer's children even joke saying he treats Rolle as his own child.

His "adopted" father was on edge. Balmer watched as other safeties were picked before Rolle - 14 in total. With every safety that went off the board, Balmer grew more nervous. Rolle was the last safety picked in the draft.

"When it got into the sixth round and I saw all the safeties, I was thinking, 'Something isn't right here,' " Balmer said. "I said to my son,' What am I missing here?' He's got the physical skills, the mental skills. There has to be something else going on because there is no way he should have slipped this far."

By 8 p.m. Saturday night, Rolle nearly forgot about the long wait. He was surrounded by former coaches, teachers, teammates and friends.

"It doesn't matter at all," he said. "I am a Tennessee Titan. I am here in Galloway. I'm going to party tonight in Atlantic City. Then, get ready to do well out there in Tennessee."

Contact Susan Lulgjuraj:


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