From Louisville, Ky., to Carrollton and Auburn, Ala., Rolan has traveled the south hoping to earn a place on a major Division I college coaching staff.
Thanks to the connections he’s made along the way and the foundations that were laid during his time playing on the football fields of Rome and Floyd County, Rolan has that opportunity.
Recently hired University of Cincinnati head coach Tommy Tuberville announced last Friday that Rolan would serve as the Bearcats’ wide receivers coach for the 2013 season.
“Walking into the door at a place like Cincinnati, as successful as their program has been, it’s tremendous,” Rolan said. “These guys have it.”
The back-to-back Big East co-champions, Cincinnati has been one of the top college football teams of the past five years.
“It’s a really big deal,” Rolan said. “In this profession, everyone needs a break at some point.”
A 2000 Darlington graduate, Rolan said he is grateful to those who coached him from pee wee football all the way through his time playing for the Tigers under former head coach Jerry Sharp.
“I’ve been surrounded by a bunch of good people and I’m fortunate that it’s been like that all through my life,” he said.
He said it was the teachings of Sharp and other members of the Darlington athletics staff like current head football coach Tommy Atha, long-time boys basketball coach Jim Van Es and current Shorter University men’s basketball coach Chad Warner that shaped him.
“All of those guys were big influences,” Rolan said. “I owe a lot to them. They prepared me not just for football and being a coach but also for being a dad and a husband.”
After three years playing for the Blue Raiders of Middle Tennessee State, Rolan went on to graduate from the University of Louisville in 2005 while serving as assistant coach and offensive coordinator for a local high school team.
He studied for his masters degree in higher education administration and sports management at Auburn where he helped out tight ends as a graduate assistant under Tuberville in 2008.
A one-season stint assisting running backs at West Georgia in 2009 was followed by three seasons at Tennessee as an offensive intern working with Darrin Hinshaw, who was just hired as Cincinnati’s passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach.
“I’m working with guys that I respect and love to work for, and that’s the exciting part about it,” Rolan said. “It means a lot for me to get this opportunity.”
Rolan said he has always liked Tuberville since working for him at Auburn and still feels a sense of loyalty to him and his football ethic.
“He’s very similar in a lot of ways to coach Sharp,” Rolan said.
“With coach Sharp, one of the things he always did was keep it simple. It was always black and white. There was no gray. You always knew who you were playing for and that he had your back.”
Now, Rolan has been given the chance to bring his character, philosophy and experiences to a big stage.
“The coaching staff that we’re putting together is going to be a great one,” Rolan said. “It’s going to be a good feeling walking into the room with all of these guys.”