MANHATTAN — Go ahead, call Robert Rose short.
He doesn’t mind. He enjoys it, to be honest.
At 5-foot-4, Rose is the shortest member of Kansas State’s football team. Compared to his roommate, 6-9 left tackle Cornelius Lucas, he seems downright puny. He understands that and tolerates the jokes that occasionally come his way, even when his coach is the one making them.
That might bother other people, but not him. The senior running back wants you to overlook him.
"A lot of times people think that because I’m a smaller player I am an ineffective player," Rose said. "In all actuality I feel like it helps me. It benefits my running style and how I run behind all those big, old linemen. I’m 5-foot-nothing, so it’s hard to see me behind them. People think I’m just shifty and quick, but I have a lot of power in my lower body. I can break tackles. I can surprise you."
Such was the case during K-State’s 37-7 victory over Massachusetts on Saturday. Rose rushed for 39 yards and his first career touchdown on five carries in relief of John Hubert. He provided a nice change of pace to the Wildcats’ offense and a pivotal score in the second quarter. With 3 minutes, 45 seconds remaining before halftime, he took a hand-off and scampered 26 yards up the left side for a touchdown that gave his team a 20-7 lead.
"I basically scored untouched," Rose boasted.
Added Lucas: "That’s what I have been seeing for the last five years. Robert has just been waiting patiently for his turn. Every time he touches the ball he wants to score a touchdown, so I wouldn’t expect anything less from him."
Rose, a former walk-on, had already established himself as Hubert’s primary backup by rushing for 17 yards and catching a 23-yard pass last week, but he made a case for more on Saturday.
He thinks he can complement Hubert the same way former backups Angelo Pease, William Powell and Keithen Valentine have for K-State starters in recent years. He actually considers Powell a mentor.
"I’m prepared for anything," Rose said. "I want to take advantage of my opportunities. Those don’t come very often, so when you do get them you want to capitalize. To me, it’s all about making the coaches confident in my abilities more than they already are so I can be an everyday player instead of a sometimes player."
Snyder seems open to the idea.
Though Hubert, a career 2,000-yard rusher, won’t be giving up his starting duties anytime soon, Snyder has been critical of his lackadaisical start. Rose is faster, and capable of doing different things. K-State has also increased its rushing yardage in each game he has played.
"He could fit in this stand here, and yet he’s got awful quick feet," Snyder said, standing . "You can’t find him. I’m not comparing him to Darren (Sproles), but Darren would sneak up on you because you couldn’t find him.
"Robert is a little bit that way, as well. He has got a good change in direction and quickness. By the time you really identify where he is it can be too late."