Photo: Courtesy of New Mexico State Athletics

It’s been a whirlwind last few months for former Fairfield High and New Mexico State star Larry Rose III. The standout running back was a key part of an Aggie team that advanced to and won the program’s first bowl game in 57 years.

Now, Rose III is preparing for the next stage of his life and is working for the chance to play on Sundays in the NFL. TexasHSFootball spoke with Rose earlier this week over the phone as he prepares for the draft process in Las Vegas.

TexasHSFootball: I’ll start off with your last college game in the Arizona Bowl in Tucson. What was it like for you to play in an environment like that?

Larry Rose III: It was great. I have to say it was life-changing. I came to New Mexico State to help turn the program around and to do what we did that night. To be in that position is just life-changing and gave me closure that anything is possible if you put your mind to it.

TexasHSFootball: I know when we last spoke before the season, you said that you wanted to win a bowl game and come out on top. You did that in poetic fashion with the game-winning touchdown in overtime. Talk me through that play and what you saw.

LR: Honestly, it was all the O-line and the receivers blocking downfield. We ran a basic zone to the left and the defensive end played heavy inside. Our left tackle, Sage (Doxtater) let him go inside like he wanted to. I continued to press outside and just kept reading the blocks. Brian Trujillo made a great block up field.

Sage went and picked up the safety and (wide receiver) Jaleel (Scott) went outside blocking the corner. All I had to do was make the right cut and walk into the end zone because they made it easy for me.

TexasHSFootball: I know you played a state title at Fairfield back in 2013. How would you compare the atmosphere in Tucson versus playing in a state title game?

New Mexico State running back Larry Rose III played in a state championship game with Fairfield in 2013. (Thomas B. Shea/USA Today Sports)

LR: They’re really similar and different in a lot of ways.

It’s similar in a sense that you’re doing something for a community that’s never been done before which is a great feeling. At Fairfield, we went to our first-ever state championship and in Las Cruces, we went to our first bowl game in 57 years.

The energy that the town and community gets playing in a big game is unbelievable but in the same sense, taking your team to a bowl game doesn’t compare to playing in a state championship game. I know football is huge in Texas but I think after experiencing the bowl game, it doesn’t get any better than that.

Of course if I go and win the Super Bowl, I can tell you about that.

TexasHSFootball: Last Saturday, they had a celebration for the team in Las Cruces and what they accomplished this year. What was that like to see the community support you all?

LR: It felt good just to know that the atmosphere and the excitement that we were able to bring as a team is a blessing. Even though I didn’t get to be at the celebration, just knowing that I played a part in bringing back some energy into the community is great.

I texted my best friend (quarterback) Nick Jeanty and I just asked him what the energy was like and he said it’s amazing. I just told him that it feels good to be a part of it and to see them finally get the recognition we deserve.

A banner celebrating the New Mexico State bowl victory hangs in Plaza de Las Cruces during the bowl celebration on Saturday. (Tony Venegas/TexasHSFootball)

TexasHSFootball: There’s going to be a lot of change within the program next year going independent. How do you see the program changing moving forward?

LR: The bowl win was huge. Like Coach Martin has said, this isn’t the end of the story; it’s only the beginning. It’s a starting point and with the coaching staff along with the players that are coming in or are already there that the sky’s the limit.

They just needed a start and this senior class provided that. I’m actually kind of jealous that it didn’t happen sooner just because they’re going to be reaping a lot of the benefits coming their way. I know they’re going to do great things.

TexasHSFootball: What was the reaction from back home in Fairfield after you won the bowl game?

LR: It was great. Everyone is happy, of course. I actually talked with one of my teachers and she said she was proud of me. It’s just a good feeling to know that people are proud of you and are doing the right thing. It felt great to feel the love back home because it was genuine.

New Mexico State players celebrate after they defeat Utah State in the 2017 Arizona Bowl at Arizona Stadium. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

I know that people were saying they wished that the way the bowl game ended was the way that the state championship game ended. It was pretty funny.

TexasHSFootball: As you prepare for the NFL Draft Process in Las Vegas, is there one area that you’re really focusing in on to get better?

LR: Not really. If there is one thing right now, my biggest focus is on my 40 time to show people how fast I really am. I think that’s where I’ll make the most noise at is to show that I’m not only fast on film but I can put it on paper. When you can do that, it speaks volumes.

TexasHSFootball: What’s the time that you’re aiming for?

LR: My 40 time is at 4.4. I want to be lower than that and I believe I can make it happen. You just have to stay tuned.

TexasHSFootball: I know that Jaleel Scott is going through the same process you are right now. What is that like to have another teammate going through it as well.

LR: It’s amazing. I have so much love and support for Jaleel. I’m a very caring person and a team player and just to see the success that he’s having, it genuinely makes me happy. Someone asked me how it felt not having the spotlight anymore and I told him is that I’ve been doing what I’ve been doing since I stepped foot on campus.

Dec 29, 2017; Tucson, AZ, USA; New Mexico State Aggies wide receiver Jaleel Scott (16) warms up before playing the Utah State Aggies in the 2017 Arizona Bowl at Arizona Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

Film and numbers don’t lie and I’ve done what I can to put myself on the map. Anytime someone gets that same chance, I’m happy for them. I’m glad that Jaleel is doing well at the Senior Bowl and he got a Combine invite and I know he’s going to do great.

The way I see it, why have one representative from New Mexico State when you can have multiple? That’s my answer to that.

Another thing is that Jaleel isn’t the only guy that’s good enough to play at the next level. We have a ton of guys that can play there and it’s finally good to get the recognition that they and the school deserve.

TexasHSFootball: What kind of advice has Coach Martin given you as you go through the process?

LR: Just keep pushing. Don’t get discouraged because it’s a long road and process. Continue to do what I’ve been doing to get this point and the rest will continue to take care of itself. The main thing he told me is to keep pushing and enjoy the process. When it’s all said and done, he says he believes in me and I’ll be just fine.

TexasHSFootball: Is there a particular team that you would like to play for?

LR: I’m just looking at whoever gives me an opportunity. It doesn’t matter who it is, all that matters to me is getting that chance from someone.

TexasHSFootball: What is that would you want to tell scouts or coaches as you go through the process?

LR: I want to tell them that I’m a hard worker. I’ve always had the underdog role and nothing has been given to me. I’m definitely going to come in and work and I just love the game of football.

Everything that you’ve seen from me in high school and college is the same thing you’ll get now. I don’t ask for anything but an opportunity and if they give me that, I’ll take the rest and run with it and make sure that their investment is well worth it.

Tony Venegas is an assistant editor with TexasHSFootball, covering prep football in the El Paso region and collegiate and professional football throughout the state. Follow him on Twitter,@advenegas, and read more of his content here.

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