2009 Recruiting: Craig Roh

Submitted by Brian on April 10th, 2009 at 3:18 PM

Previously: S Vlad Emilien, S Thomas Gordon, CB Justin Turner, CB Adrian Witty, LB Isaiah Bell, LB Mike Jones, LB Brandin Hawthorne, DT Will Campbell, and DE Anthony LaLota.

Scottsdale, Arizona - 6'5" 230
craigrohcrazyninjastance_thumb5 Scout 4*, #8 DE, #67 overall
Rivals 4*, #7 WDE, #156 overall
ESPN 83, #4 DE, #48 overall
Others #87 to Takkle.
Other Suitors USC, Notre Dame, Penn State, rest of Pac-10
YMRMFSPA Crab People. Also Shawn Crable.
Previously On
Hello: Craig Roh. TomVH interview. Roundup of All Star fawning.
Notes Teammate of Taylor Lewan.

Dude check that crazy stance. Craig Roh wishes to prove the maxim about pad level's all-importance on every play. Crab defensive end is in your base, killin' your d00dz. Here he is wreaking havoc:

This may be another instance of ESPN overrating its own all star game, where Roh owned(video), and ignoring that other one, but he's Michigan's highest-rated recruit over there. Their post-All-Star take:

…a wiry and muscular defender who plays the defensive end position well. He has the frame to pack on more weight and showed on film and at the Under Armour All-America Game that size is not a serious concern. He is an excellent prospect who plays smart and uses good technique to his advantage. He has an excellent motor and is good with his hands. Roh is a disruptive pass-rusher who has a good spin move and will work a counter off of it. In a conference in which teams still like to run the ball, Roh will need to get bigger, but the kid is a fine football player; he should be able to at least contribute as a pass-rusher early on.

Roh leapt up from #87 to #48 after dominating the oppositions tackles during the game. Since he was going up against a Texas commit frequently, UT sites noticed:

Craig Roh DE (Michigan)
Straight baller that showed a Dwight Freeney spin on Kelley for a sack and sacked/tackled Russel Shepard in space. Had a handful of QB pressures over the course of the game. Rich Rod got himself a good one.

Scout agrees with ESPN's extremely positive take; Rivals isn't quite as enthused but they like him pretty well just the same. A roundup post in the aftermath of the UA game collected a wide array of praise from all corners, each of them saying something similar to "needs a year in the weight room but I wouldn't want to try and stop him after that."

In addition to all that, Roh was the Arizona high school player of the year, beating out ASU commit Corey Adams and USC commit Devon Kennard. His junior year Roh racked up 99 tackles and 15.5 sacks and was first team all state; as a senior he had 14.5 sacks. Offers came from Notre Dame, Penn State, Virginia Tech, Oklahoma, the entire Pac-10 except, weirdly, Washington—Ty must have been working on his short game—and many, many others. Yes, USC is included in that number. Roh was a national recruit. By May, when he accepted the UA game invite, he had 32 offers.

How about a tantalizing, Feagin-esque quote?

"My strengths are my ability to read an offense. My biggest asset is my mind. I study a lot of film. My speed is also a strength. Getting off the edge is important for a defensive end.”

Do work. "Motor" is constantly mentioned when Roh's talents are discussed, by both himself and talent evaluators. Technique, effort, and natural ability fuse into one package of complete awesome. If there was a fey little South American kid around they could summon forth Captain Planet. Let an MGoBlog reader who attended one of Roh's games sum up:


Just watched Craig play a rare Thursday game against Paradise Valley, their rival in Scottsdale. Having seen the kid go gimpy two weeks earlier with a turned ankle, it was great to see his influence back here tonight. He went on both sides of the ball, usually strong side DE but played a good deal of TE on the "O" side and just barely missed grabbing a very low thrown pass that would have been a TD.

Paradise Valley was determined to stay away from Roh and it became obvious this was planned during their prep for the game.

The play that sealed Chaparral's victory was a fourth and goal from the two yard line. Craig blasted into the right side of PV's "O" line, knocking the runner backwards and popping the ball into the backfield where his Firebird teammates ended any chance of a Trojan victory.

Alan Crowe
Tempe, AZ
LSA 1974

Okay. Roh has talent, and lots of it. Where will that apply on the field? In a traditional 4-3 Roh would be a weakside end, tasked with getting to the quarterback and given relatively simple tasks against the run. In this hybrid 3-4 Greg Robinson is installing, Roh is one of the hybrids. Rodriguez doesn't expect him to get huge:

"He’s got a great motor. … He’s going to be a guy that will grow to 250-some pounds and be a great pass-rusher for us. I think he’s got an opportunity to make an immediate impact."

A 250-pound edge-rushing terror is exactly what Robinson wants at the hybrid spot. This would be much more clear if he had the good sense to call it the "Deathbacker," as commenters suggest, instead of the "spinner," but that's life.

The one hitch in this deathbacker plan: Roh has no experience dropping into zones and will require work before he can be an every-down player. He's also got that crazy crab stance and it seems like taking him out of it would make him considerably less of a threat.

That lack of experience and the weight issue—he's currently about 20 pounds short of the 250 Rodriguez would like to see him at—means he won't leap directly into the starting lineup. But I don't think it'll take long.

Why Shawn Crable? Crable was a 6'6" athletic terror with chicken legs who spent his Michigan career bouncing from DE to OLB and would have been the perfect player to slot in this spinner spot. Crable was also rated right around where Roh is. The comparison here is very tight.

Etc.: Likes Mozart and the Lord of the Rings? Maybe you'll see him at GenCon. Article on the pressure of being a top recruit. If eyebrows are any indicator of future performance he'll be a beast. Video interview at Max Preps, where even he falls into the trap of comparing himself to another white guy.

Guru Reliability: High. All Star appearance.
General Excitement Level: Very high. Roh has the guru rankings, the offers, an impressive All Star performance, the drive, and the intelligence to be an impact player. There are no red flags anywhere.
Projection: I was pretty sure Roh would function as a situational pass rusher as a freshman, but the move to this spinner thing and a hybrid 3-4 complicates matters. He should get immediate use as a situational pass rusher and could move into the starting line up by midseason. It might take longer but I don't think Evans, Watson, or Herron is going to keep him off the field for much more than a year.



April 10th, 2009 at 3:37 PM ^

Not to degrade Roh's accomplishment as Arizona High School player of the year, but wasn't Kennard injured early on and forced to miss almost the entire season?


April 10th, 2009 at 3:40 PM ^

Deathbackers do not have the time for proper eyebrow maintenance. They are too busy backing death.

Hopefully he'll get some spot time rushing QBs like Martin got early on in the saeson last year . . .


April 10th, 2009 at 3:43 PM ^

is a nice name, but I prefer to refer to "the spinner" as "the spinarooni". This gives me a good reason to scream, "SPINAROONI!!, SPINAROONI!!" during the games-- something for which I have been waiting a long time.

STW P. Brabbs

April 10th, 2009 at 5:25 PM ^

I assume you're talking about the OSU game and the hit on Troy Smith. If I recall correctly, that was a) not a pass attempt at all, but a hit at the end of a run that occurred in-bounds; and b) kind of a bullshit call, in that it was difficult for the 6'6" Crable to hit the 5'11" Smith without faceguard-helmet contact (both were upright at the time.)

Crable did lots of stupid things, but it's a pet peeve of mine when that hit gets lumped in with such instances of dipshittedness as the Leseuer Special.

Unless you're talking about a different play, in which case I'm an asshole.


April 10th, 2009 at 6:07 PM ^

Too much is being made about Roh's "crab stance". Sure he's very low when the ball is snapped. But he immediately stands up when the ball snapped and before he engages anyone. Not sure what that stance has to do with anything from what I saw.

We had a kid on my team in HS that would get even lower than Roh and played right over the ball at nose guard. He would use that stance to shoot through/under/around the center and caused havic. If Roh used his low stance in a similar fashion then I would understand all the attention it's getting.

Regardless sounds like he will be moved off the line a bit to better utilize his speed and lack of size in college. I look forward to watching him develop.