Ezekiel Rose The Driver on WVU’s Energy Bus

Ezekiel Rose The Driver on WVU’s Energy Bus

MORGANTOWN, W. Va. — He’s the go-to guy on West Virginia’s 2018 defensive front — in more ways than one.

On the field, Ezekiel Rose will anchor WVU’s three-man line after a junior season in which he recorded 23 tackles (19 solo) and 4.5 sacks. That alone makes him a focal point for the Mountaineers’ rebuilding and reshuffling group on the first level of the defense. There’s also, though, his personality, effort and enthusiasm, which has earned him the spot in the driver’s seat of assistant coach Bruce Tall’s Energy Bus.

The what?

“He got it from a book, but he tells me I’m driving it, because I have the most energy,” the effervescent Rose explained.

Drawn from a tome authored by Jon Gordon, Tall uses the lessons of The Energy Bus to help build a solid, positive approach among his players.

The website for the book explains that it “reveals 10 secrets for approaching life and work with the kind of positive, forward thinking that leads to true accomplishment – at work and at home. No one goes through life untested and the answer to these tests is positive energy—the kind of positive energy consisting of vision, trust, optimism, enthusiasm, purpose, and spirit that defines great leaders and their teams.”

There might not be a better description to apply to Rose, who has an abundance of optimism and a positive outlook that helps fuel himself and his teammates through the grind of the off-season. Ever-smiling, always willing to talk, he’s a go-to guy in the locker room as well as the interview room.

Rose’s enthusiasm doesn’t come out in a self-promoting or trash-talking way, however. He’s all about tackling tasks with a positive approach, one that picks up teammates but doesn’t demean or talk down to others. His work ethic is also high-level, and verified by his award as the team’s “Mr. Unselfish” by the coaching staff following the 2017 season.

West Virginia defensive lineman Ezekiel Rose (91) breaks through the Iowa State line en route to a sack

Striking the perfect balance between hard work and confidence, Rose isn’t afraid to let loose with his thoughts on the upcoming season. The mention of the West Virginia defensive front as a weak spot rankles.

“If that’s what you think, we’re going to have to show you what we are bringing to the table,” said Rose with a facial expression that exhibits his distaste for the assessment that the Mountaineer defensive front will be a weak spot. “I don’t want to go all crazy, but I feel like we will be a dominant defensive line this year. [There’s a] lot of energy, a lot of fresh legs rotating in. There’s going to be a lot of competition out there so we will see where that takes us.”

If nothing else, the Mountaineers do have more potential depth to call upon. Graduate transfers Kenny Bigelow and Jabril Robinson join returnees Reese Donahue, Darius Stills and Jeffrey Pooler, while transfer Brenon Thrift also becomes eligible. Newcomers Dante Stills, Tyrese Allen and James Gmiter will also compete for playing time, which at least provides a pool of candidates from which to make Rose’s prediction come true.

Getting those newcomers ready for action brings another Tall metaphor into play.

“We call it the toolbox,” Rose said, sharing another glimpse into the way the defensive line is preparing for the upcoming season. “We want to reach into our own toolbox and get our main tools out that we’ll use all the time. I feel like just bringing more energy to meetings and competitions and everything we do will help us in the long run.”

Armed with his tools as he climbs aboard the bus, Rose has everything he needs to make his senior season the crowning achievement to his college career, and one that makes up for a 2017 campaign which fell just a few points short of being a very good one. While he’ll have help from a couple of other veterans in the defensive line meeting room, this year is clearly his show to run.

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