The Wolverine

November 2011

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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was really, really good for me. My dad helped me realize that, and God helped me realize that.��� The realization hadn���t set in through fall camp. Those steamy August days proved a difficult stretch for the veteran defender. Michigan donned full pads every day, he noted, and it was unlike anything Roh had ever experienced. He figured just getting to the season represented a victory of sorts. When the Wolverines finally arrived there, and posted an opening-game win against Western Michigan, the battle in his own mind hadn���t eased much. It didn���t help that Roh���s production against the Broncos rivaled the amount of his defensive coordinator ���s soothing words. Roh started and played through most of the lighting-shortened contest. The stat sheet from that game, though, doesn���t even reveal his name. No tackles. No sacks. No anything. That only deepened Roh���s misery. Something needed to change, he knew. It involved more than the proper pad level, more than taking all the right steps. It involved a level of submission, a recognition of imperfection very much in keeping with his professed beliefs. That week, in the days leading up to the Notre Dame game, Roh experienced an ���epiphany��� that changed his approach and his season. ���I wasn���t yet fully committed,��� he said. ���I thought I was committed. I loved Michigan. I loved Michigan football. But I wasn���t fully committed to what Mattison envisioned for me. ���I went up and said to him, ���I want to be fully committed. I���m going to do everything I can in my power to prove it to you.��� I was still having second thoughts, but I thought I���d make a wall for myself, that I can���t go back ��� I can only go forward.��� The storybooks would present Roh making the sack, forcing the fumble and scooping it up for the winning touchdown to beat the Irish. That didn���t happen, but change still began, and he still experienced a night he���ll never forget. ���That���s something I���ll be able to tell my kids about, 20, 30 years from now,��� Roh noted of the 35-31 thriller under the lights. ���It���s something I will never forget. It���s something I truly can appreciate, being at Michigan.��� 38��� the wolverine��� ������ November 2011 Even now, he appreciates a laugh at his own expense. The gamewinning touchdown catch by Roy Roundtree with two seconds remaining unleashed celebration, followed quickly by consternation. ���I jumped up, and somebody actually stepped on my shoe,��� Roh recalled. ���My shoe fell off. I had my gloves on, so I couldn���t untie my shoe and put it back on. I got one of the trainers and said, ���Hurry! Put it back on!��� ���I thought the defense was going to have to go back out there. I was like, ���Hurry, hurry, hurry!��� It was amazing joy, then panic.��� ������ Craig Roh ���Coach Mattison was not afraid to just push me and grow me in this extremely hard and fast fashion, first in spring ball and then in camp. It was just so amazing how something so hard has really ended up to be so ��� life-changing.��� Calmness and production took hold in the days that followed. Roh recorded his first sack in week three and pushed through Michigan���s first eight games as the team leader with 7.0 tackles for-loss. He hasn���t graduated from the Mattison Academy of Hard Knocks, by any means, but he���s accomplishing what he needs to in terms of homework. ���I���m proud of what he���s done, improvement-wise,��� Mattison said. ���I am not, by any means, totally happy with him. I don���t think he is still where he has to be to be a really bigtime rush end. But I am really happy with how he has bought in. ���He has worked extremely hard, and you see what has happened in the games. He would be the first guy to tell you, ���I can do better. I can do better.��� My answer to that is, ���Well, then do it next week.��� ���He, like a lot of other players, wants to be really good. They really do. It���s a matter of them just doing the work to take it there.��� Head coach Brady Hoke added: ���Craig���s greatest asset is that he���s a smart kid, a smart football player. He picks things up well and has good recognition.��� Part of that involved recognizing what Mattison is striving to achieve by pushing him to his perceived limit. ���He just saw what potential I have,��� Roh said. ���He saw the talent I have. He just wants to extract every ounce of ability from me. It���s not always going to be fun. Looking back at camp and spring ball, and looking toward the future, I know if he���s hard on me one day, it���s just because he wants the best for me. ���He sees that I really am committed now. He trusts me more. He sees through my actions that I���m going into film every day, really trying to get a good grasp of what every offense is bringing in. It���s the way I practice. He sees it every day. He���s trusting me more and more.��� Sometimes trust is hard earned. Roh���s teammate at Chaparral High School in Scottsdale, Ariz., didn���t quite know what to make of Roh the first time the two encountered each other. Taylor Lewan ��� admittedly the more boisterous of the duo ��� moved to Chaparral as a senior and had already heard about Roh,���s fourth-best pass rushing defensive end in the nation and the No. 4 player in Arizona. ���It was my first day,��� Lewan recalled, grinning and shaking his head. ���I had on this awkward collared shirt, some khakis that went nearly up to my knee, some New Balance shoes and some ridiculous-looking socks. I was just trying to give the best impression possible. ���I���m walking into the weight room, and everyone is working out. Craig walks in and just comes up to me and hugs me. I���m thinking, who the hell is this guy? ���He says, ���I���m Craig Roh. It���s so nice to meet you.��� I���m like, this is the guy? This is the guy who is one of the best D-ends in the country right now? What���s this all about?��� He laughed, and so did Roh, who was listening in. Those two experienced much more furious meetings, along with a number of humorous ones, going against each other in practice. ���I���m finally starting to get decent on the offensive line,��� Lewan remembered. ���In practice, we had a two-

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