DANVILLE — Opposing teams and coaches have started asking Danville's Darrien Rose when he's going to graduate.
"When I tell them that I have another year left, people are surprised,'' said Rose, a junior, who will be making his 28th start for the Vikings' defensive line. "It's been a great to be a part of this team and this program. I never thought that I would play varsity football, let along start in my freshman season.''
That's right, the 6-foot-2, 301-pound defensive lineman, has been a starter since his first game in the Danville program.
"We were really struggling to find a person to play the nose guard position, to fill out the defensive line,'' Danville coach B.J. Luke "I saw this big ol' freshman kid jogging around the track. I asked some of the coaches, why couldn't he play for us?
"We watched him move and he was moving better than some of our older kids. He really stepped up and with the confidence he gained from the other kids that accepted him — he became a key component of our defensive line.''
In his three varsity seasons, Rose has recorded 151 tackles, 15 tackles for loss and three sacks — not bad for someone playing on the interior defensive line.
"It seems like I've been on the varsity football roster for 10 years,'' Rose admitted. "There have been a lot of ups and downs, and that first year, making it to the Class 6A Quarterfinals, was amazing.''
And how did he feel, playing against guys that were two and three years older than him?
"It was nerve-wracking and intense,'' he said. "I was nervous, scared, anxious, just a little bit of everything. But, it was a great team to be on, because there were a bunch of great leaders.''
Included in that group, was his older brother, Dennis Rose, who was a starter on the Danville offensive line.
"I look up to him, not only because he is my older brother, but also because he is such a hard worker,'' Darrien said. "I don't think I would have gotten through that year without him.
"He was both my biggest fan and he pushed me harder than anyone on the team.''
Luke admits the relationship between those two helped Darrien's progress in the program.
"I think it definitely helped him that year,'' the coach said. "All of our kids knew Darrien because of Dennis, and I think they accepted him because of that.''
Dennis Rose wasn't just someone that Darrien has looked up to on the football field. Their relationship also applies to show choir and in the classroom, where both brothers have excelled in their years at Danville High.
"We are a lot a like in some ways, but we are also day and night different,'' Darrien said. "Our sense of humor, intelligence and our musical abilities are very similar.
"It seems like everything I do, he has inspired me to do it.''
Danville senior lineman Tim Pittman admits that he looks up to the younger Rose.
"Even though he is younger than me, I look up to him in so many ways — academic wise, sports wise, everything,'' Pittman said. "I've known him for so long, there are a lot of times I forget that he is behind me in school.''
So what is he good at?
"Everything,'' Pittman said. "I really don't see him fail at anything he does, because he tries so hard at everything he does.''
While his talent on the football field is on display every Friday night, Rose is just as talented on the stage.
"We've got some kids that are very interesting, and they do a lot of different things,'' Luke said. "It's fun to see a big old body guy up there with some light shoes. He is pretty nifty on his feet. He is athletic. He can move around and he's a big powerful strong kid.''
Pittman, who is 5-foot-7, 250 pounds, admits it's quite shocking to see someone like him on the stage performing in show choir.
"You wouldn't expect someone his size to do the things that he does,'' Pittmand said. "He can sing and his dancing skills, as big as he is, he can dance and move.''
That's something that Rose is planning on showing off on Saturday night at the Homecoming Dance, but first and foremost, he wants to help his Danville football team get back to the playoffs.
"It was kind of discouraging last year to not make the playoffs,'' he said. "But, I've learned to turn a negative into a positive and I'm using that as motivation to be better this season.''
Rose said that he believes his talents in show choir have actually helped him on the football field.
"I like to think that I have good footwork on the football field because of my ability to dance,'' he said. "I believe that it has helped me with my balance, even thought a lot of people claim that I'm always falling down on the football field.''
Being good on the football field and in show choir are important to Rose, but neither one matters as much as his work in the classroom.
"My mom told me a long time ago, that they can take away your accomplishments in football or show choir, but no one can take away your grades,'' he said. "School is my first priority over everything, except for my family.
"This year I'm taking some rigorous classes but I need them,''
That's because Rose is planning on major in pre-med when he finally graduates (2015) from Danville High.
" I just love helping people,'' he said. "I think being a doctor would be a great job.''
Considering how he has handled everything in high school, from athletics, to show choir, to academics, it will surprise no one when everyone is calling him Dr. Rose.