MOBILE, Ala. -- As a former Fresno State running back, Robbie Rouse has focused on using Senior Bowl week and the game itself as a proving ground to show that he can play against top-flight talent and stand up to the punishment.
“This is a great opportunity for me coming from a smaller school in Fresno State and not really getting an opportunity to play on television for an ESPN game or on ABC,” Rouse said following a recent practice. “It’s just a great opportunity to play against other great players and show my abilities and show what I’m capable of.
“It’s extremely important, just like we’re all rooting for Northern Illinois in the BCS bowl game. For a smaller back and smaller players, it’s about showing that’s it’s possible to play with the best. Being here at the Senior Bowl is a great accomplishment and I’m taking full advantage of it.”
During his career at Fresno State, the five-foot-seven, 190-pound Rouse rushed for 4,647 yards and 37 touchdowns. After rushing for 479 yards and four touchdowns on 82 carries during his freshman year, Rouse had at least 200 carries, gained more than 1,100 yards and scored eight or more touchdowns in each of the next three seasons.
His best season came as a junior in 2011, when he rushed for 1,549 yards and 13 touchdowns on a career-best 329 carries.
In addition to his rushing prowess, Rouse caught 110 passes during his college days. He caught a career-high 63 passes -- which he turned into 435 yards and two touchdowns -- as a senior in 2012.
“I’m a strong, physical runner that holds onto the ball well, has great hands coming out of the backfield, is a good blocker,” Rouse said. “I have good vision and just good football instincts. I have good field awareness and things like that. It’s easy to hide behind my linemen. That’s usually an advantage. I use my height to my advantage.
“What I offer an NFL team is a competitor. I love to play the game. Where I went to college, it kind of opened my eyes that players don’t really love football. They just like the scholarship or to put the jersey on, but it’s a game I love to play. I’ve been playing since I was six and I want to continue to play for as long as I can walk and run. Even after I’m done, I just want to stay in the game as long as possible. I’ll give great leadership to the team and I’ll be a good teammate, on and off the field.”
When watching NFL games growing up, Rouse said he admired the smaller running backs, players like Darren Sproles (New Orleans), Dexter McCluster (Kansas City), and Ray Rice (Baltimore). He is looking to have an impact on other running backs in the future by using his opportunity to show what the smaller players can accomplish.
“The best part is you really can make people miss,” Rouse said. “You’re out in space and maybe the hardest part would be catching it, just really catching it and trying to be under control. You’re trying to run before you catch it.”