IRVING, Texas — Earlier this week, Regina Rollins took a moment to assess her son’s well-established upbringing.
Given her in-depth relocation, it’s safe to assume she could go all day talking about Earl Rollins, a true freshman defensive end for the University of Tulsa football program.
As Regina Rollins tells it, Earl was brought up in a Christian-oriented environment that was comprised mostly of pastors and ministers. Having been raised in a two-parent home in which family prayer and attending church were customary trends, Regina and her husband, Henry Rollins, proved to be quite instrumental in their son’s continuous success as a football player.
How else to explain why Earl has managed to showcase his immense skills for a major Division 1 college football program?
A former MacArthur High standout, Earl has made his presence felt in this, his first full season of collegiate football for Tulsa (1-6, 1-2), which will be aiming to snap a six-game winless streak when it travels to play Memphis (4-3, 2-1) Friday night at 7 CST in a nationally-televised (ESPNU) American Athletic Conference game.
For Henry and Regina Rollins, witnessing their son savor his long-awaited dream of playing major college football is a testament of the dedication and support they have steadfastly demonstrated since his days of playing in Dallas-area youth leagues.
For starters, Henry Rollins spent years coaching his son during his days of playing competitive ball for the Irving Football Association. And, in Regina’s estimation, she served as the self-proclaimed “team mom” whenever her son suited up for games.
“Earl was always off the growth chart as an infant,” Regina told MemphiSport.com. “He was always above average from his peers in school, not to mention when I was carrying him, the hits, turns, flips and kicks gave me a great discernment this is a football player. We knew he had the love for the game in Pee Wee, because he would always say to his dad he’s ready to tackle and why does he have to pull flags.”
Like his parents, there’s no doubt Tulsa coach Bill Blankenship and his staff have embraced how Earl Rollins has gone about finding his niche as a key contributor for the Golden Hurricanes’ defensive unit.
Through seven games, the 6-foot-3, 275-pound Earl Rollins has made two starts, while recording three tackles, two of which were solo tackles.
While Earl isn’t expected to start in Friday’s contest at Memphis, according to a team official, he is expected to see a significant amount of action against the upstart Tigers.
Still, with so much football ahead of him at the collegiate ranks, many would agree the sky’s the limit for a rugged, talented defender who, to his credit, has been nothing less than impressive for a rebuilding Tulsa team.
No one, it seems, knows that more than Henry and Regina Rollins.
“He’s awesome,” Henry Rollins said in assessing his son’s rise a football player. “He was Tulsa’s top recruit at the defensive tackle position. He worked very hard for this position. For him to be in his first year out of high school proves his ability athletic and academic eligibility.”
Said Regina Rollins: “He mentioned in his year book 2014 that he is blessed and not many have had this opportunity. The thing God is showing him through this experience with football and education is the foundation for growing him into a successful young man for whatever his future endeavor.”
A future that, given his rapid progress at the collegiate ranks, could very well land him in the NFL in the coming years.
All because of his well-established upbringing.
Andre Johnson, a 2000 graduate of the University of Memphis School of Journalism, is a senior writer for MemphiSport. Based in Dallas, Texas, Johnson covers the NFL and the NBA Southwest Division. To reach Johnson, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.