When Miles McGranahan welcomed football back into his life after a near three-year hiatus, the then-junior struggled at times to get up to speed.
Though Tyler Rose had removed himself from the game just months earlier, he routinely dove into the playbook to assist his best friend.
“He still knew the plays, and helped me more than anybody,” McGranahan said.
Thanks to some coaxing from two key influences, Rose strapped on the pads and helmet for his senior year.
Now, neither of the Ashland Tomcats are finished with football yet. McGranahan and Rose signed their names onto letters of intent with Kentucky Christian University on Friday in the high school cafeteria.
Both contributed greatly in helping lead Ashland to an 8-4 season in 2013.
McGranahan (6-foot-3, 185 pounds) initially played safety before excelling at cornerback for much of the season. He was an All-Area selection as a wide receiver.
Rose (6-1, 205) emerged as a strong defensive end while also stepping in and starting a handful of games at quarterback with usual starter Hunter Prince hampered by an injury. He was also the team’s long snapper.
“He’s a pretty savvy football player with a pretty good football IQ,” said Tomcats coach Tony Love.
Love said when the Tomcats lacked communication on defense, he approached Rose about being the defensive signal-caller. Rose gladly accepted before the Sept. 13 with Russell. Ashland allowed single-digit points in four of its next six games.
“Coach Love put an extra fire under me,” Rose said. “I played against a lot of good, big linemen. So I used being smaller to my advantage. Coach helped me with some spin moves and swim moves.”
Mike Broughton, Rose’s grandfather, strongly urged Rose to return to the football field. Love encouraged him as well.
Rose has always lived with his grandparents, even when his mother was living. She passed away when Rose was 11.
Rose called Broughton “the biggest mentor, the biggest idol” in his life.
“A big reason why I played football this year is because he wanted me back out there,” Rose said. “Since second grade, I can count on one hand how many of my games he’s missed.”
Broughton was an All-State honorable mention selection in 1969 with the Tomcats.
“He’s always been a dad to me,” Rose said. “If I do something wrong, he’s going to tell me ... he’s a big part of why I’m the man I am today.”
Rose plans to study nursing at KCU, as does McGranahan.
McGranahan, also a fine track athlete, sustained a growth plate injury in his right knee as an eighth-grader. While he remained involved in track, he sat out of football during his freshman and sophomore years.
“When Miles came to us his junior year, you could see he really liked (football), but you could tell it was foreign to him,” Love said. “Then there was a transition between his junior and senior year. He was a really important factor for us back in that secondary.”
McGranahan was cognizant of the fact that Ashland lost significant experience from the 2012 season.
“We needed leaders, so I took it upon myself to try to lead the team on defense,” McGranahan said.
Passing yardage was typically hard to come by for opponents.
He caught a few passes, too, becoming one of the leading receivers on a run-oriented team.
McGrahan said he “can’t wait” to get to Grayson, where KCU’s campus and young football stadium are located.
The Knights went 3-8 last season, due in some part to a beefed-up schedule, but outside respect of the program has risen over the last few years.
Rose and McGranahan wil join former Tomcat Ryan Whetsel at KCU. According to Love, Whetsel appears poised to gain a starting linebacker spot this coming season.
AARON SNYDER can be reached at email@example.com or (606) 326-2664.