Miami quarterback Malik Rosier played with a little more inspiration during the Hurricanes’ 41-8 drubbing of then-No. 3 Notre Dame on Saturday.
Days before the biggest game of Rosier’s college career, he received the news that his father had suffered a stroke nearly 500 miles away, in Tallahassee.
“It’s one of those things that really changes how you look at life,” Rosier told ESPN. “My life was 8-0 as a quarterback, everything was going fine, and then you get that news and you realize means so much, but it’s not everything. You have to take account of the people that are in your life and don’t take them for granted.
“I could have woken up Monday morning and lost my dad.”
Eli Rosier was checked into a Tallassee hospital on Nov. 6 after he lost all feeling in the left side of his body. He wasn’t released until the following Thursday.
His symptoms fluctuated over the next few days, but after they flared up with more intensely last Wednesday, Eli Rosier was forced to stay at home, for the first time missing a game in which his son started.
“It was scary,” Eli Rosier told ESPN. “It was a wake-up call, I can tell you that. I’m pretty much a miracle because I came back with about 85 percent of my strength back on my left side.”
Eli Rosier didn’t notice the symptoms at first, but family and friends did when he showed up on their televisions during the ABC broadcast of Miami’s 28-10 win over No. 13 Virginia Tech on Nov. 4. Eli Rosier said that he received phone calls and text messages after the game from people wondering whether he was OK because he didn’t look well on TV.
His mother called and said the left side of his face looked different and his eye was drooping.
Once Eli Rosier got back home from Miami, he said that other than having some sinus congestion, he felt fine. He took some NyQuil and went to bed.
While on his way to work on Monday, Eli Rosier collapsed and was taken to the hospital. Doctors told him that he had a hole in between one of his lungs and his heart.
Malik Rosier said he woke up Monday morning to a text message from his stepmother, Shannon Rosier, telling him that his father was in the hospital because the “left side of his body was numb” and “he couldn’t really feel his lower half.”
He was shocked. His father was in pristine shape, a multisport athlete in high school and a baseball standout in junior college. He had just seen him two days earlier after the win over Virginia Tech, and he seemed fine when the family went out to Buffalo Wild Wings for a late dinner after the game.
After constant communication between Rosier and his stepmother, the quarterback had to get through the rest of his off day with his father’s health on his mind. While Eli Rosier continued to reassure his son that he was fine, Malik Rosier said he felt “out of sorts” and was “forgetting stuff and not able to concentrate” on his Notre Dame prep.
He didn’t want to tell his coaches, so his mother, Dana Hudson, reached out to them.
“I know the coaches have so much to worry about with Notre Dame that I didn’t want to burden them with my problems as well,” Malik Rosier said.
Rosier and his father talked every day leading up to Saturday’s showdown with the Irish. Eli Rosier’s message to his son was simple: “Stay humble, don’t worry about me, worry about the game.”
“I didn’t want him worrying about me because I know how he is. He called me enough while I was in the hospital so I didn’t want that burden on him when he had to go out and play,” Eli Rosier said.
“I’m proud that he’s mature enough to know, ‘Hey, my daddy’s all right. I gotta go lead these men on the field and I can just turn around and take care of my daddy afterward.'”
Lead, Malik Rosier did.
In arguably his most impressive performance of the season, Rosier helped the Canes dominate Notre Dame from start to finish. Rosier was efficient, completing 15 of 24 passes for 137 yards and a touchdown. He threw for six first downs and also ran nine times for 44 yards with a gutsy 16-yard touchdown.
The win catapulted Miami to No. 3 in the College Football Playoff rankings and made the Canes legitimate national championship contenders.
Rosier said his dad was in the back of his mind leading up to Saturday’s game, but his mother, stepmother and stepfather helped him stay positive and focused. Not having him at the game was tough, but Rosier said having his teammates around him and feeding off the home crowd energized him that much more over the weekend.
“[Eli] is a diehard Miami fan — and he really hates Notre Dame, to be honest with you — but as much as I was playing for my dad, I was also playing for the guys who strapped up and put the pads on with me,” Rosier said. “Those are the guys that I grind with every day, and my dad knew that I was going to do the best that I could.
“He was like, ‘I’m glad the game wasn’t close or you would have given me another stroke.’ He kinda had that joke going on.”
Eli Rosier tried to make a late surprise trip to Miami, but after constantly feeling nauseous each time he got into the car, he decided to stay home and rest. He watched the game from home and talked to his son on the phone shortly after the game ended.
“It was just nice to hear his voice,” Malik Rosier said.
Eli Rosier is gaining strength through rehab and is scheduled to undergo surgery on Monday. His doctors have cleared him to travel to Miami’s home game against Virginia (12 p.m. ET, ABC) on Saturday, and barring any setbacks, he’ll be there to see his son in person again.
He’s also planning to make the trip to the ACC championship game in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Dec. 2.
It’s been an emotional couple of weeks for the Rosiers, but Eli Rosier continues to stay positive about his recovery. He’s started to drive a little, and the feeling on his left side is getting better. Even as he battles his own health, Eli Rosier is making sure to keep his son first during his journey back.
“Each day, it’s getting stronger and stronger,” Eli Rosier said.
“I know I’ll bounce back from it and my strength will come back. That’s what I’m really waiting on.”