Withering Rose Says He's Ready to Play

Fitzpatrick stands prepared to take the helm versus Lehigh

Waiting.

It seems that is all Harvard senior quarterback Neil Rose has been doing since leading the Crimson to its perfect 2001 season.

Waiting to get back to Cambridge while spending his spring semester working for a hedge fund in his native Hawaii.

Waiting to be cleared for fall practice, after injuring his back in the weight room.

Waiting on the sidelines of Brown Stadium with a back injury, watching his backup lead the Crimson

to a come-from-behind victory.

Now, that same injury has Rose waiting to find out if he will be the starter when Harvard travels to No. 12 Lehigh this weekend.

“I haven’t been cleared offically yet,” says Rose, who will meet with a back specialist today. “There are a lot of things going on. If I had to bet on it, I’d say I’m going to play.”

Crimson Can’t Lose

The smart money may be on Harvard no matter who starts at quarterback.

Sophomore Ryan Fitzpatrick relieved Rose in each of the season’s first two games, and performed remarkably well.

With Rose’s situation unsettled, Fitzpatrick was announced as the probable starter on Tuesday.

“I think it’s all up in the air,” said Harvard Coach Tim Murphy on Tuesday. “We’ll plan on going with Fitzy, and if Neil’s ready, then great.”

Murphy is in an enviable situation.

Rose is the most prolific passer in school history. He owns or shares 13 school records, and with a 90 percent completion percentage, three touchdowns and no interceptions, has been ridiculously close to perfect this season.

Fitzpatrick, meanwhile, has proven his mettle by leading game-clinching drives in each of Harvard’s season-opening wins. With 131 rushing yards against Brown, he also became the Crimson’s first quarterback to run for 100 yards since 1992.