HU football looks to finish high

By Altamese Osborne

Hampton University head football coach Donovan Rose strikes a calm pose amidst a season of uncertainty.

The student-athletes to his left, running back Steve Robinson and punter Jahmal Blanchard maintain the same cool demeanor, despite their team’s disappointing football season.

Life-sized pictures of past greats dot the walls. Trophies line the entrance of the football offices. With surroundings that pay homage to Hampton’s outstanding football legacy, this season’s quiet average 4-5 record seems somewhat out of place. However, Rose and his team hope to carry forth Hampton’s legacy and finish the season on a high note starting with the game against Florida A&M University this upcoming Saturday.

“I think we have the chance to finish successful these last two games. I can’t undo what’s been done. These last games are all that matters now.”

His confidence translates to the players sitting beside him.

“We’re playing for pride,” says Steve Robinson, a junior running back from Buford, Ga. “These last two games we’re trying to show people that we’re the same Hampton they’re used to seeing.”

“We want to win,” Blanchard agrees, a senior punter from Fort Lauderdale, Fla. “If we lose one [game], it’s an automatic losing season.”

Not only is a winning season on the line against FAMU, but the game also marks the return of former coach Joe Taylor to Hampton. In 16 seasons at HU, Taylor led the Pirates to a 136-49-1 record, eight conference titles and seven playoff appearances.

“Obviously, I respect him,” says Rose. “He’s like a mentor to me. I ended up [working] with Coach Taylor from 1992 to 2007. But he’s been gone for two years. We have a lot of players that don’t know him.”

Rose clearly shows no signs of holding back from his former mentor come game day.

“It’s not personal; it’s business. I don’t want to sit back and be complacent. We’re going to do whatever we have to do to win. We’re [going to] play smart. The team that is willing to prepare is greater than the will to win.”

“I’m trying to get those Rattlers.”