Senior Ed Rolle prepares for the next play. Photo by Chris Crews

Charlotte 49er Ed Rolle has reached his senior year and will not be leaving quietly. The third-year defensive back boasts four career interceptions, making him 2nd in all-time Niner history.

“At first I didn’t know about the school, but I honestly just gave it a shot.” 

But Ed Rolle’s defensive presence as a 49er didn’t come about without a number of challenges and uncertainty.

“The biggest hurdle getting into college was coming out of high school,” said Rolle. “Because, of course, I had offers coming out of high school, but they didn’t stick.”

Rolle’s opportunities in collegiate football were severed at the time as he struggled to meet the certain academic requirements.

As an alternative, Rolle attended a junior college, Garner City. Rolle was introduced to the prospect of playing 49er football after meeting Coach Wally, Charlotte’s former defensive coordinator, who told him to visit the campus.

“He told me: come up to visit; if you like it, you can play. I came up and fell in love with the campus,” said Rolle. 

Rolle even happens to draw similarities between his hometown, Miami, and the city of Charlotte.

“I love Uptown. I like the setup there; it’s similar to downtown Miami,” said Rolle. “It’s a big city, it has a lot of people. Charlotte’s the same way.”

But Rolle found that his connection to Florida led to two of his closest teammate bonds among the defensive backfield, whom he has even prayed with ahead of games.

“One player I’m particularly close to is Ben DeLuca. Being that we’re both from Florida, I feel like that’s why we’ve got a close connection,” said Rolle. “Sometimes during our offseason, we’ll get our workouts in together. I’ll probably go to Orlando or he’ll come to Miami.”

According to Ed Rolle, these sorts of relationships are part of what has defined his collegiate football experience. DeLuca and defensive back Denzel Irvin have impacted Rolle greatly, quickly becoming those go-to guys when he first stepped into Charlotte, with Irvin taking on a distinct brotherly role during his first years with the program.

“Denzel had definitely taken me under, showing me the ropes, how to be a good player and showing the Charlotte brand. So he’s definitely one of the guys I admire and look up to,” said Rolle.

At the professional level, Rolle actually looks up to a handful of NFL defensive players, including DJ Swearinger, Washington Redskins safety, who he watches before every game and even emulates his “double spoons” field celebration.

“He’s a great player, he’s a great guy and he’s very passionate about football, just as I am. So he’s definitely a guy I look up to,” said Rolle.

But life as a 49er off the field has been made equally congenial by the UNC Charlotte community. 

“My favorite thing about Charlotte is definitely the people. The people here are very welcoming. I walk around in my Charlotte gear and I get asked how the team is looking. People are very interested. That’s something I look forward to attending school every day.”

As far as schooling, Rolle has jumped around between several different science majors since getting to college. With a major in geography, Rolle intends to help make a difference in underdeveloped places around the world, or even within the U.S.

“I want to go out and reach out and help the people in need who are undeveloped. Places like third-world countries, they need help and I want to go out and help,” said Rolle.

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