Since arriving in southern Alabama, Patrick Rosette and Damean Bivins have been dogged by one word – “if”.
As in “if only they could stay healthy”.
Both players joined the Jaguars in 2019 but both have played a total of three games in that span. Rosette, a safety, suffered three season-ending injuries, while Bivins, a running back, suffered a broken foot that required two surgeries and cost him two entire seasons.
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However, spring is a time of eternal hope, and both players are currently healthy for the Jaguars. Bivins was one of the stars of South Alabama’s first spring scrimmage last weekend, while Rosette spends a lot of time with the Jaguars’ veteran-laden defense.
“Pat Rosette, we always knew he was a huge talent, but he hasn’t been able to play football for the last two years here,” South Alabama head coach Kane Wommack said. “So to get on the pitch and start to see him anticipate better and see the obvious instincts that he has, he’s really taken off in the last few practices. That’s huge for us because we need more depth at the security post I’m really happy with the things he’s doing.
“… Ever since I came here people have said Damean Bivins is a guy they are passionate about, and I understand why. Damean has truly done great things and pushed himself to regain his health. He really leans into the physique that we need to get out of that running position.
Bivins signed with South Alabama in 2019 at Pace (Fla.) High School, where he was Class 6A Player of the Year after rushing for 2,273 yards and 32 touchdowns as a senior. He was able to keep a redshirt season falling after playing three games, rushing for a total of 17 yards on three carries as a late-game reserve.
Disaster struck the following fall, however, as he broke his foot in a preseason scrimmage. He had surgery and missed all of 2020, then injured it again later – requiring another surgery – and missed all of 2021.
The 6-foot, 206-pound Bivins were something of an afterthought for the Jaguars heading into this spring, with Terrion Avery, Bryan Hill, AJ Phillips and Jared Wilson all returning and the junior college transfer very boasted La’Damian Webb — a former Alabama Mr. Football — having joined the program. But Hill and Phillips have been limited this spring by pre-existing injuries, and Webb broke his foot a week into spring camp.
This opened the door for Bivins to get more rep, and he crashed out in the scrimmage last weekend. He rushed for a team-record 70 yards on seven carries — including a 43-yard burst — and also caught a 29-yard touchdown pass.
“I felt like I had a good day,” Bivins said. “It feels good to be back here and playing football again. Fighting those injuries has been difficult for me, being able to come back here and play football again is the best feeling in the world.
Southern Alabama finished seventh in the 10-team Sun Belt on the offensive rushing season, averaging just 111.4 yards per game and 3.0 yards per carry. Avery was the team leader, rushing for 538 yards on 138 carries.
Webb is expected to return before fall camp and will likely be back on the team when he recovers. But if nothing else, Bivins has probably shown enough this spring to carve out a role for the Jaguars offense.
“I’m very happy with him, after a foot injury which can be difficult,” said offensive coordinator Major Applewhite. “He was very patient, showed a lot of discipline and maturity coming back from that. He’s got a good body type and he kind of has the sea legs, so to speak in terms of coming back, seeing defenders, making cuts, recognizing fronts, getting in and out of breaks and things like that.
Rosette broke his right thumb, broke his left hand twice and suffered a torn ACL in his left knee during his time with the Jaguars. Therefore, he only saw the pitch for three games, all of them during the 2020 season.
Now 25 and heading into a seventh season of college football, Rosette hopes to make up for lost time. He is currently working spring training as the Jaguars’ second-team Husky (nickel) safety, behind returning starter Yam Banks.
Better yet, he is healthy.
“I tried to take better care of my body, but I just go out there and play,” Rosette said. “And I want to date the right way, be with my boys and stuff. I’m a senior and these guys are my little brothers. I want to quit the game the right way.
Rosette first signed with Houston in 2016 at Foster High School in Richmond, Texas, so long ago that Applewhite was the Cougars’ head coach. He redshirted as a true freshman, then played two games the following season before transferring to college in search of more playing time.
It was at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M in 2018 that Rosette had his best college season to date, totaling 101 tackles and earning Southwest Junior College Conference honors for a team that finished 8-4 and ranked among the Top 15 nationally. He signed with South Alabama under head coach Steve Campbell in December and everything was going well…until day one in the full pads at spring 2019 training.
“I came out of the rim trying to make a tackle and my thumb hit between two helmets,” Rosette said. “I trained all day and tried to train the next day, but it was pretty bad. And that was just the first (injury).
“…When you play football, you have to play hard. There are things you just can’t control. »
Rosette missed all that spring, then broke his hand in fall camp and missed the entire 2019 season. He returned to the field in 2020, playing a reserve role in early-season games against Tulane , UAB and ULM – registering a tackle – before re-injuring his hand and missing the rest of the year.
Wommack replaced Campbell as head coach ahead of the 2021 season, but Rosette got injured again before she could even prepare for Spring Ball. He tore his ACL during off-season training, which resulted in surgery that cost him another season.
Rosette was able to take a medical redshirt for the lost 2016 season and claw back a year of eligibility — along with every other NCAA athlete — due to the COVID-tainted 2020 season (ironically, South East’s only Alabama in which it is actually played). So, he can play in 2022 as a seventh-year senior.
“It’s been a long time coming for him,” said Keith Gallmon, a two-year starter for the Jaguars at the free safety. “I know he had a long battle with his injuries. This past year has been really tough for him, but he’s back and he’s in a good position now where he feels healthy and his body feels good. So we just push him to become what he can be best for us.
Southern Alabama will hold its second scrum of fall camp Saturday morning. The annual Red-Blue spring game will be held April 16 at 10 a.m. at Hancock Whitney Stadium.