Matt Roth was like a kid in a candy store as he told me about his move to rush defensive end. The former middle linebacker agrees with the Hawkeye coaches that he is better suited for rushing the passer than he is for covering receivers.
"I am excited that I will be able to hit someone on every play. The increased physical contact and my ability to be dominant over an opponent makes me very excited about this opportunity" said Roth.
Seeing this attitude, it is easy to understand why Matt was the Illinois heavyweight state champion wrestler as a senior in high school. Wrestling will also help Matt as a defensive linemen. "We like players to wrestle in high school because it helps their balance," said Hawkeye Head Coach Kirk Ferentz.
Matt was very upbeat and easy to talk to. He has an effervescent personality, which is unusual for such a large young man dedicated to weight rooms, wrestling mats and football fields. This effervescence isn't about bubbles either as this 6-4, 255 hunk of granite from Villa Park, Illinois is definitely not on the bubble.
"Matt Roth will play in the NFL someday as a defensive end," said Iowa Defensive Coordinator Norm Parker. "Now he has to learn the responsibilities of the position. He has all the tools to become a dominant player in the Big Ten," added Parker.
Roth stated, "I like not having the responsibility of pass coverage. I would rather smack somebody than run with the receivers."
Matt doesn't want to get much bigger as he considers his speed a helpful ally. "I'm 255 now and don't ever project myself over 265 or 270. I don't want to lose my quickness. My best two attributes are that I can run and I can hit," Matt added.
Hawkeye fans should expect big things out of Matt in the future. However, let's all give him a break and let him learn his position from Norm Parker and Defensive Line Coach, Ron Aiken. Then maybe Roth will start giving some quarterbacks some breaks of a different kind.