PREP FOOTBALL: Yes Sirr: Rollins cleared to play
Columbia's Sirr Rollins has won his age appeal, granting him another year of eligibility which allows him to play out his fourth and final season with the Tigers.
The Florida High School Athletic Association sectional appeals committee made its official ruling Tuesday. The senior was told the good news via conference call.
"It feels really good, I missed it," Rollins said of being back. "The atmosphere is fun. We just got to put this all together. We got to make plays and ball out."
The FHSAA's decision was met with delight from teammates and coaches alike.
"I'm definitely happy to hear that for that young man, and for the program," Columbia coach Brian Allen said. "(He's) a tremendous football player who's going to be with us for another season.That kid has an amazing story. I'm just happy he'll get to play his senior year with this 2019 class."
Rollins was originally deemed ineligible due to his age. FHSAA states players who turn 19 before the September 1 cutoff date are not allowed to participate in interscholastic athletics during that school year. There was no telling if the 4.0 student, Rollins, would ever be able to suit up for his hometown Tigers again.
Rollins, a preemie who turned 19 last week, submitted a strong appeal to the FHSAA. After weeks of waiting for a verdict, the hard-hitting defensive back steps right back into the fold. Rollins, who started every game at strong safety last year, now provides Columbia with added depth to an already experienced secondary.
The unit includes Ahmad Williams, Brandon Scott, Kaden Murphy and Noah Ruise.
"We're bringing nothing but pressure," Rollins said. "We got a couple packages that we do. We're just going to take control of the defense, hopefully will get Ethan (Umstead) back soon, and hey, we'll just ball out, do our thing on the field."
Williams and Scott were projected starters in the defensive backfield, but with the return of Rollins, the Tigers look to somehow accommodate all three playmakers.
"It's great to have that situation," Allen said of the three potential starters. "There's going to have to be different packages. Packages that contain different areas, different starters. So now that this (appeal) has come to fruition, we now have a kid that can play a lot of different places. So those packages are now starting to go through the mindset of our defensive guys."
Rollins has stayed conditioned throughout the spring and summer season. He says he regularly worked out with teammates as well as alone, running up hills near his home. Rollins admits he's still getting up to practice speed but the playmaker says he'll be ready to take the field as early as Friday's preseason classic against IMG Academy in Bradenton.
"He hasn't missed a day of summer workouts," Allen said. "He's been right here with everybody participating as if it was his senior year. He's done a really job with that."
Rollins played a huge role in revitalizing the Tigers' secondary last season as the unit was dealt with the tall task of replacing four starters from 2016. Columbia went back to the playoffs for a seventh-straight season in 2017, but an early exit loss to Lincoln in the quarterfinal round ended any hopes of a state title. The Tigers are back – with their reliable thumper on the defense – ready for another push in 2018.
"We them boys out here," he said. "When anything is in our face, we're just going to compete, and go out with a bang. That's our mentality."