HUNTINGTON, W.Va. -- Marshall defensive tackle James Rouse is eager to attend media functions, but was more eager Monday to finish his interviews and move on.
Not because he didn't like the company, mind you, but the weight room was calling.
After his decision to return to the Thundering Herd for a sixth year, he was attacking his program with a renewed vigor.
The 6-foot-5, 268-pound native of Harrisonburg, Va., announced his decision Sunday at the team's banquet. He said he reached his decision before MU played Rice for the Conference USA championship game on Dec. 7.
He went through Senior Day ceremonies, but he'll happily do it again in 2014. He just wasn't ready to leave the college game.
"The success of the season, all my teammates, other people I was with, my coaches," Rouse said, ticking off reasons to return. "I just felt like it would be great to have another opportunity to come back and have another successful season with the team."
In his first fully healthy season since his redshirt freshman season of 2010, he leads the Herd with 12 tackles for loss, and is second with 4.5 sacks - nice numbers from a tackle position. He also has five quarterback hurries, three pass breakups and a blocked kick.
And now, he will play in his first bowl game, as Marshall takes on Maryland in the Military Bowl in Annapolis. Kickoff time is 2:30 p.m. Dec. 27.
Rouse was all but forgotten the last two years, losing the last nine games of the 2011 season and all of the 2012 season to injury. Back problems and a torn Achilles tendon were the major culprits.
With a redshirt season (2009) and two injury-dashed years, he was considered a shoo-in for a sixth-year waiver from the NCAA. He just had to accept it.
"Anybody that's overcome the adversity he has, to come back and have the success - he was voted MVP by his teammates,'' said MU coach Doc Holliday. "He was voted captain and was all-conference, which is a great reward for a guy that deserves it."
Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130, dougsm...@wvgazette.com or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.