This is the fourth in a series of stories on high school football teams in the Bi-City area. Coming Wednesday: Central-Phenix City
In football, every coach loves a Ronald Rosser.
Versatile, athletic and determined, Rosser is the type of player that can force an opposing offense into a mistake on one side of the ball, then make the defense pay a few plays later at wide receiver.
Hardaway High coach Jeff Battles is just happy that he can count Rosser among his own.
"He's instrumental in what we try to do," Battles said. "He's not a superstar, but he's definitely a high-caliber kid. He's dependable, a great leader and well-rounded."
Entering his second year as a starter for Hardaway, which plays a scrimmage Friday at Brookstone, Rosser will play cornerback, wide receiver and even some running back as he looks to help the Hawks improve on last year's one-win campaign.
It's not a surprise for an individual who has been exceptional in athletics ever since he was old enough to participate.
"I've just played sports since I was little," Rosser said. "I've been running since I was on two feet."
The running evolved into participation in basketball, football, track, soccer and even tennis. But his evolution on the football field is what largely will determine the fate of his team this season.
Rosser began the 2011 season, his first as a starter, playing only defense but added wide receiver to his résumé at midseason.
The 5-foot-9, 165-pound senior said it was the offensive position that came most naturally to him.
The difficulty as a defensive back, he said, was that it was harder for him to judge where the balls were going to be.
"I just have to learn how to read and react to what the wide receiver does a little better," he said.
Even as he continues to progress in his defensive reads, however, his athleticism allows him to still succeed.
He runs a 4.6-second 40-yard dash, and he said that number continues to improve. By season's end, he would like to drop it to at least a 4.5.
"I just try to run as much as I can, as hard as I can, as fast as I can," he said.
The work shows, Battles said.
"He's a solid athlete," he said. "That's the best way to describe him. He's fast and quick. And he's smart. He's able to learn both sides of the ball, pick up the reads and the routes. He works extremely hard."
Hardaway safety Caleb Thompson added that having Rosser play both ways was a big help to him on defense.
"We play on the same side, so we're always playing off of each other," Thompson said. "If I make a mistake, he can help me. If he makes a mistake, I can help him,. And when he's on offense practicing at wide receiver, I know he's going to go hard, so it helps me practice on defense."
As a senior and returning starter on the team, Rosser will be relied upon for more than just his athleticism, however.
His leadership will play a large role in helping the team, which was filled with underclassmen a year ago.
Battles said he thinks Rosser is up to the challenge.
"He's very dependable," the coach said. "He's a great leader. He leads by example. He can get guys pumped up in the huddle, and he's good at stepping in and controlling the situation when things start to go wrong."
Rosser said he already feels that responsibility, and he welcomes it.
"I feel very responsible," he said. "There is a lot of responsibility that comes with leading the offense, defense and special teams. If we mess up a play, I take responsibility. Being a leader, you have to make sure things go right."
Rosser isn't sure what the future holds after high school, but, for now, helping the team improve is his focus.
"I just want to see our team win," he said.