MELISSA BLOCK, host:
From NPR News this is All Things Considered. I'm Melissa Block.
ROBERT SIEGEL, host:
And I'm Robert Siegel. In college football, the title of student athlete can often be an exaggeration. Andy Katzenmoyer, a linebacker at Ohio State a few years ago was able to stay academically eligible with classes like golf, introduction to the computer and visual arts, and AIDS: what every student should know, and he was hardly unique. It's no surprise that you never hear about big-time college football players and Rhodes scholars in the same breath. But Myron Rolle could change that on November 22nd. He is the starting strong safety for the Florida State Seminoles, and he is a finalist for a Rhodes scholarship, and he joins me now from the Florida State Campus. Mr. Rolle, welcome to the program.
Mr. MYRON ROLLE (Rhodes Scholarship Finalist, Florida State): Thank you for having me.
SIEGEL: You're a pre-medical student. You're playing for a very high-profile football team at Florida State and additionally, you're applying for a Rhodes. Is that a burden? What do you have to do for that?
Mr. ROLLE: The Rhodes scholarship process was very extensive. I had to do several personal statements, rewrite those over and over and over again. I had to get some letters of recommendation. I had to go through a couple of mock interviews as well, just to prepare myself to interview in front of the selection panel in Birmingham, Alabama.
SIEGEL: Take us back a few years. You come from Princeton, New Jersey, I gather, and this wouldn't be as unusual a thing if you had been playing for Princeton and you'd been playing for Penn. You wouldn't be in a ball game in January, but I would say that's another smart guy who plays some football and is getting a Rhodes. Tell me about the decision to go to Florida State.
Mr. ROLLE: That's a great question. You know I went to the Hunt Schools, a boarding school in Princeton, and I've heard so many Rhodes scholars have gone to the Ivys. Doug Bradley is one who I've heard, you know, was an outstanding athlete and a Rhodes scholar as well and was able to do both. So from that point I realized that, you know, this could be a dream for me and this is something that I want to aspire to. But I chose Florida State because it was a school that definitely makes great football, playing for Coach Bobby Brown, the winningest coach in college football, and the opportunity to graduate in three years and have a pre-med program, to apply for the Rhodes scholarship and enjoy good Florida weather, you know? I'm from New Jersey, so it's a little different weather down here in Tallahassee, but it's fun and I really did enjoy my decision and, you know, I don't regret it to this day.
SIEGEL: Now, initially you had to make a choice between attending the final interviews for the scholarship in Birmingham, Alabama, as you said, or playing in your team's game in College Park, Maryland. How many seconds did it take you to make that decision?
Mr. ROLLE: Probably all of about one. As soon as I learned that I was a finalist, it was no question in my mind that I was going to put myself into the competition for the Rhodes scholarship. It's an opportunity to do some great things with my life, and my coach should understand that academics and education are the priority for me. So they were very supportive of my decision as well.
SIEGEL: And then the game was actually - the schedule was adjusted so that you would be able to attend the interview.
Mr. ROLLE: Absolutely. The game was scheduled for 8 o'clock on Saturday night and the university here, our athletic director Randy Spetman has arranged for a charter flight to take me from Birmingham, Alabama to College Park, Maryland so I'll at least be able to make half time of the game.
SIEGEL: What do your teammates say to you about this? Do they kid you about it, do they?
Mr. ROLLE: Oh yeah. My teammates, they kid me all the time. My nickname is the doctor or the president in the locker room. Whenever there's a debate that goes on in the locker room about, you know, whether, you know tomatoes are really red or whether, you know there's a country in north Africa named Algeria, they'll ask me.
SIEGEL: They figure you must know the answer to those.
Mr. ROLLE: I must know the answer. They don't go to Google, they go to Myron and then I answer the question and then the debates over after that.
SIEGEL: For trivia, which is more impressive, that they turn to you, or that there are people there who don't know that there is a country named Algeria in North Africa?
(Soundbite of laughter)
Mr. ROLLE: I'm not sure. It's a good question. Good question. But I'm happy to assist my teammates. I tutor some of the guys so, so that's fun.
SIEGEL: Myron Rolle, thanks a lot for talking with us. Good luck to you with this.
Mr. ROLLE: Thank you very much. Appreciate it for having me.
SIEGEL: Myron Rolle, the starting strong safety for the Florida State Seminoles and a finalist for a Rhodes scholarship.