Cua’ Rose’s rise to stardom at Arkansas Tech University didn’t happen overnight. Rose started at McGehee, where he began playing football in the fifth grade.
His mother didn’t want him to play football at first because she thought it was a dangerous game, but Rose showed a passion for the game growing up. He played multiple positions until his 10th grade year when he moved to Springdale. After he moved to Springdale, his mother told him that he broke her heart by moving away from her.
“As a 15-year-old kid I felt hurt knowing I broke my mom’s heart. I didn’t know how to handle it,” Rose said. “At that point, I told myself I had to go college to be somebody so I could make her proud. It made me push myself hard to succeed for my family.”
At Springdale, Rose played safety where his skills started to flourish. He finished his junior season with 100 tackles and 17 pass deflections. In his senior season, his team did not make the playoffs ,but he still managed to finish the season with 99 tackles and 15 pass deflections.
After his senior season, Rose went to play at Pittsburg State University. At the time, Pittsburg State was ranked number two in the nation in Division II football. After making it through preseason training camp, Rose left before the season started. His sister had her fifth heart surgery and doctors told her that she wouldn’t live past 21.
“I wanted to be closer to my sister,” Rose said. “After she had her fifth surgery, it just pulled me closer and closer back home.”
Rose then decided to attend Arkansas Tech University because it would keep him closer to his sister, who is now 24-years old. However, Rose began to question his future in football.
“After high school, I had lost love for the game. I did not feel like the game of football was for me anymore. I started to ask myself was this the path that I was really supposed to take,” Rose said.
Rose turned to his mother for advice about the situation. She told him not to give up and keep playing football. This talk motivated him to be committed to himself, and to his work on and off the field.
As a freshman at Tech, he was named the Defensive MVP-Most Improved Player. He went on to start every game on defense, he finished the season as the team’s leader in the secondary with five interceptions, and was second on the team with 76 tackles, 44 solos and 32 assists.
With more success on the field, Rose had to tackle a bigger issue off the field.
On December 12, 2015, while in his underclassmen years, Rose received a call while he was in the shower from his brother’s girlfriend. She told him his brother had been stabbed in the heart. “I immediately went to the hospital he was at,” Rose said. “On the way there, I was talking to God the whole way there. I just was wishing this wasn’t true. Questions were coming in my head from left to right. Losing my brother was the toughest thing I have ever been through.”
He met his family at the hospital. Tears were flowing from all members, his brother was gone.
He always told his brother that he “will make it one day” and to this day he still talks to him, moving forward to keep his promise. Rose uses his painful situations in life to motive himself and other people. Though he has had struggles and missteps, he still moves forward toward success, because he wants to be seen as sign of hope for others. Also having a younger brother looking up to him keeps Rose moving forward.
Rose is currently in his junior year and has been named player of the week. He has worked hard to make it a season to remember.
In his first two games, Rose forced four turnovers, three of which came against the Henderson State Reddies. Rose also caught three interceptions that game. He tied a 95-year-old record for most interceptions in a game set. The Wonder Boys are currently 4-1, with six more games left. Rose is putting together a memorable season.
Rose’s play style is unique. As a 5-foot, 9-inches tall safety, making him one of the smaller guys on the field, he gives 100 percent on each play.
“People don’t expect me to go the extra mile. Defenders just expect me to tackle them,” Rose said. “I don’t just want to tackle them; I want to take the ball away. Every play I feel the ball is mine no matter what.”
He mimics his style of play after his favorite player, Tyrann Mathieu, who is nicknamed the “Honey Badger.” Mathieu was given the nickname because of his tenacious ability to play tough football against much larger opponents and make big plays.
With the Wonder Boys being rank No. 24 in the American Football Coaches Association Division II Top 25 poll, Rose needs to keep channeling his inner honey badger.
“This year we have a chance to do something that has never be done. We are pushing to get a ring. We feel like we are the best in the nation,” Rose said.