Current Date: Thu, 23 May 2013 12:48:17 -0400
Seven-month-old Rocky is the youngest ram to ever represent the Tar Heels — and he’s already making his trainers proud.
After the unexpected death of his predecessor, Rocky took the football field for the first time as the University’s mascot, “Rameses,” at UNC’s opener against Elon University on Saturday.
Rocky is the 20th ram to represent UNC, following the death of 2-year-old Bam Bam in March.
Bam Bam’s role as the University’s mascot was short-lived. He assumed the position in February but died of a ruptured kidney a month later.
Ann Leonard, one of Rocky’s caretakers, said Bam Bam’s death was unexpected given his young age.
Leonard is the widow of Rob Hogan, a third-generation Rameses keeper who died in 2010. The family has been taking care of all rams who have filled the role of “Rameses” since 1924.
Leonard said Rocky was chosen because of his characteristics and bloodline.
“He really represents the best characteristics of the breed,” she said. “He has a nice stance and set of horns.”
Chris Hogan, also Rocky’s caretaker, said he is the youngest ram to ever take on the role.
“He is still a baby,” Hogan said. “He is at a very good age to work with.”
Don Basnight, cousin of the late Rob Hogan who has worked on the farm since childhood, said Rocky even has a girlfriend named Stella.
“We’re hoping that (the two) are going to have a long, happy life on the farm,” he said.
“We have a new football coach, a new season and a new Rameses,” Basnight said.
Rocky made his game-day debut Saturday in front of more than 50,000 people at Kenan Stadium.
He also took his first tour down Franklin and Columbia Streets, visiting some of the sorority and fraternity houses on Saturday, Basnight said.
Hogan said he has spent a lot of time working with Rocky and was impressed by how he handled the extra attention from game patrons.
“Overall, I was 100 percent impressed with his performance at the Elon game,” Hogan said.
“This is definitely going to be good ram — the people will get to watch him grow up,” Hogan said.
“We have a young team and a young ram.”
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