The little big man at McDaniel

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Joe Rollins had 34 carries for 234 yards in the second-to-last game of 2010 and carries that momentum into 2011.
McDaniel photo by David Sinclair 

At 5-6, Joe Rollins might be the shortest guy his McDaniel teammates look up to.

But they have good reason to do so. The sophomore from Temple Hills, Md., has made a name for himself in his first season as a starter. He’s become a driving force of the offense, averaging 6.3 yards a carry and finding the end zone nine times.

“It’s a really good feeling to know that you’re on a team that has your back,” the rusher said.

Rollins said that it’s his size that makes him the kind of threat he is. His ability and his strength are deceptive. Opponents underestimate him. It often takes more than one hit to knock him down. Defenders can’t easily wrap him up.

“He plays like a much bigger back as far as his strength and his ability to break tackles,” said McDaniel running backs coach Tony Vinson. “He tends to catch a lot of people off-guard.”

In a few short weeks, Rollins and first-year coach Vinson have forged a strong mentorship, both on and off the field. Vinson is a former NCAA record-holding running back and NFL player. He said his professional experience has helped him realize the need to be “a complete player” -- one who can run, block and pass protect.

“As a coach, you can’t just work on one facet of a player’s game,” Vinson said. “You have to make him a well-rounded player.”

That’s the plan for Rollins. The coach said the student-athlete has a lot of natural ability and talent. Rollins said his success this year comes not just from getting stronger and faster in the offseason but rather from getting more playing time. Last year, he played behind a senior and wasn’t in harmony with his teammates and the playbook.

“I didn’t get that same connection with the offensive line, the coaches, the quarterbacks,” Rollins said. “Now that I’m the primary running back, I get a lot more time to connect with the linemen and understand the blocking schemes and the assignments and what they’re going to do.

“I know more of what’s going to happen before it happens.”

Rollins said he enjoys being in the spotlight, something he never got to bask in even as potent rusher in high school. Nowadays, some people on the Green Terror team have nicknamed him J-Roll. Around campus, he’s becoming known as Super Joe. In other instances, it’s simply Superman, or Anytime.

He credits a lot of the success to Vinson. Rollins confided his goals to his coach in the preseason. They talk about more than football. Rollins has met Vinson’s family and gets the push he needs from the coach.

“He said he sees a lot more in me than I think I see in myself,” Rollins said.

Vinson is a man who focuses on the details. Specifically, he has helped correct Rollins’ stance or the angle of his runs.

“He critiques the little things to help make me more productive,” Rollins said.

Vinson said he and Rollins pore over the nuances of the sport. In the future, he said he’d “like to see Joe really understand the game, understand what defenses are trying to do to him, how they’re planning, how as an offense we can beat those schemes.”

McDaniel has begun the season a disappointing 1-4, with no loss coming by more than eight points. Rollins knows his burden on the field is a large one, and he said that the losses hurt.

But, he said, “The positive thing I get out of this is that we are a young team. … With the program that we have, we’re building upon it. We’re learning how to fight to the very end.”

Decades in the making

Washington and Lee hit some of its highest marks in decades, thanks to a 63-0 blowout against Guilford. Saturday’s point total was W&L’s largest since 1951, and the margin of victory was the most since 1922. It also pointed to a rare shutout by the Generals. The offense was mounted largely on the shoulders of junior Luke Heinsohn, who was honored by the ODAC for his 167 yards and four touchdowns. He far outpaced anyone else on the field. The Generals also put up 125 yards passing, a total eclipsed only by the yardage from the previous week’s victory against Alma.

The wagon goes back to Carlisle

A Red Devil passing performance of 234 yards, 116 of which went to Cam DiFede, hoisted the team over rival Franklin and Marshall and won back the coveted Conestoga Wagon Trophy. Connor Thompson posted 11 total tackles, 10 solo, but it was F&M that was able to get to the ball quickly and often, as a team notched 10 tackles for loss. Diplomats defensive lineman C.T. Marsh had a standout performance consisting of 2.5 sacks, inching him closer to a school record.

Rapid roundup

Hampden-Sydney had a monster third quarter with 24 points, including a pick-6 by Sean Stewart, to pull ahead of Catholic in a 31-17 win. Turnovers can be crucial, and Stewart’s interception was one of four H-SC nabbed. The others were by Charlie Shoemaker, who had two, and Zach Morgan.

Ursinus quarterback Chris Curran had a day of personal bests, completing 30 passes on 40 attempts for a total of 314 yards. He spread the ball out, hitting eight receivers in the team’s 42-7 win over Moravian.

Two N.C. Wesleyan rushers -- Jacques Alston and Jamal Smith -- broke 100 yards while the defense pulled in five interceptions in the Bishops’ 29-0 win over Averett.

Philip Volz recovered a flubbed Greensboro punt in the end zone to get Shenandoah started toward a 30-7 win over Greensboro. Wideout Rico Wallace also put up heavy yardage with 199 receiving and a touchdown.

Anthony Carter piled on 152 yards and two scores in Bridgewater’s 57-13 win against non-D-III opponent Apprentice School.

Contact me 

I would be happy to hear from anyone who has questions or feedback regarding the Around the Mid-Atlantic column or Division III football in general. Please write to me at ryan.tipps@d3sports.com or follow me on Twitter @D3MidAtlantic. I invite you to talk about players and performances on the message board’s Around the Mid-Atlantic thread. Additionally, if there is an idea you’d like to see me write about, post it there or email me.

Andrew Lovell

Andrew Lovell is a writer based in Connecticut and a former online news editor for ESPN.com, as well as a former sports staff writer/editor for the New Britain Herald (Conn.). He has written feature stories for ESPN.com, currently contributes fantasy football content to RotoBaller.com, and has been a regular contributor to D3sports.com sites since 2007. Andrew has also written for a number of daily newspapers in New York, including the Poughkeepsie Journal, Ithaca Journal and Auburn Citizen. He graduated from Ithaca College in 2008 with B.A. in Sport Media and a minor in writing.

2012-2015 columnist: Adam Turer
2007-2011 columnist: Ryan Tipps
2003-2006: Pat Cummings
2000: Keith McMillan
1999: Pat Coleman

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