Rouse readies to begin his dreamPublished 10:26pm Thursday, July 31, 2014
Beginning his football journey when he was 6 with the Suffolk Steelers, absorbing much coaching, poring over game film and producing flashes of potential during his high school years paid off for Curtis Rouse Jr. when he signed earlier this year to play football for North Carolina Wesleyan College.
“Going on to the next level has always been my dream,” said the recent Lakeland High School graduate, who begins training camp with the Battling Bishops on Aug. 14.
Curtis Rouse Sr. said his son was going to attend Bluefield College, but changed his mind once Wesleyan started calling. Desire for a new experience and change of scenery were factors in the decision.
“I ultimately chose it because I didn’t want to be close to home,” Rouse Jr. said. “I wanted to get away from the state.”
He appreciated the size of the Wesleyan campus, the opportunity to further his education there and the friendliness of the people and coaches.
He said the process leading to his signing was smooth.
“I thank God for the opportunity that has been afforded to him,” his father said. “I think he deserved the opportunity to be able to compete on the next level.”
Rouse Sr. sent Wesleyan coaches his son’s highlight film and said they liked what they saw, resulting in the head coach giving a call.
He encouraged Rouse Jr. to apply to the school to see if he would be accepted, which he was.
Lakeland coach Bryan Potts highlighted Rouse Jr.’s strength in the classroom.
“I think initially that’s what caught their eye,” Potts said, noting that recruiters at the Division III level first look for academically strong students.
In terms of Rouse Jr.’s football skills, his father said, “I just think that his running style and his instincts probably really caught their attention, as well.”
Potts noted that Lakeland did not run the ball much last season, but Rouse was its leading rusher and earned all-conference second team honors, with 63 carries for 438 yards and a touchdown.
Much of that came from a monster performance against Indian River High School in which he gained 228 yards on 12 carries.
Potts said if Rouse Jr. maintains his current work ethic, he can add a dynamic to Wesleyan’s offense that will help it be successful. He said Wesleyan coaches can line him up in the slot, and in the backfield, “he has the opportunity to have a good game or a breakaway game at any time.”
“Sky’s the limit for him at that level,” Potts said.
Division III schools cannot issue athletic scholarships, but Rouse Jr. has received a partial academic scholarship.
He tentatively plans to major in criminal justice and minor in business.
His father has already made plans to make the approximately one-hour, 25-minute drive to Rocky Mount, N.C. to watch him play at different points during the season.
Wesleyan’s season and home opener will be on Sept. 6 against Stevenson University.