Traverse City West rebounded from a disappointing loss to Midland to start the season with a 21-8 victory over Ogemaw Heights Friday night. It was a positive step for an offense that had been held scoreless in week one.
“It was a rough game,” sophomore offensive guard Tommy Roush said reflecting on the 16-0 defeat in the opener. “We did really good on defense. We were all surprised at our defense. But our offense, we still need a lot of work. We’re really young, but I think we're going to get better. It was tough playing against [Midland High School]. They weren’t consistent with anything. They were shifting all their guys everywhere and just tough. I think we were the better team but I don’t think we were mentally ready.”
Roush appeared to be more ready than a number of his teammates, as evidenced by his proficiency pulling and blocking defenders on the second level. While there is certainly room for improvement he was left pleased with his effort.
“I did pretty good,” said Roush. “It was kind of tough cutting the A-Gap players and everything. But I think I did pretty good on passes. Before this game I wasn’t really excited about how I’d do. It was a little better than I expected. I think I got a lot stronger and a lot bigger. And [I’m] still growing and stuff. I think I’m just a better player in general. I’d like to get bigger. I’d like to grow more. I’d like to work on my drive blocking, my pulls. I have a lot to work on but I think right now I’m doing pretty good. But I can always get better.”
He will likely experience a great deal of growth during the season, but his drive to improve won’t stop when the curtain falls on his sophomore campaign. After a summer that included camp stops at Northwestern, Michigan, Michigan State, and Western Michigan, Roush knows that his development can be aided dramatically by working under the watchful eye of college coaches. That was certainly true of his time at Michigan.
“Michigan camp was good,” recalled Roush. “The offensive line coach moved me up with the top offensive linemen in the camp. I performed pretty well. It was a good thing because they invited me for an unofficial visit and it was a couple weeks later. It was really nice. There was like eight players from the 2016 class there. And it was really great meeting all the coaches. It was really fun. So I think it went well.”
“They were saying that they’re really interested in all of us and they want to see our first two or three games. They’re going to go from there. But what I’m hoping is that they’ll offer us. They didn’t say so but I’m hoping that’ll happen.”
In the months following that impressive camp showing Rousch has noticed an uptick in Michigan’s interest. That has definitely made an impression.
"Probably Michigan’s probably recruiting me the hardest. But Toledo [is] really interested in me right now. But I think Michigan has been the most interested in me.”
“(I like) their history. That’s what they’re famous for. Tradition and everything. I mean, the Big House…the biggest stadium in the United States! Great history and everything.”
It helps that Michigan is among the schools also courting his teammate and friend Thiyo Likusa. An increasingly common question is will the two talented youngsters be a package deal.
“A lot of people have been asking me about that,” Roush said smiling. “I think right now I don’t know about going to school together. It could always happen. I think right now it’s just our personal opinion on which school we want to go to. We’re pretty big Michigan fans. I mean, it could happen, but we got two more years of high school. So you never know what could happen down the road.”
“I’m just looking for a school with great history, great tradition, does well every year and Michigan is one of those schools. There are a lot of schools like that. But right now I’m only a sophomore. I don’t really know much about choosing schools and stuff. But that’s what I’m looking for right now.”
Northwestern, Michigan State, Western Michigan, and Northern Illinois as the other programs, showing significant interest. That said, a few of them sitting higher on his list than the rest.
“Probably those three Big Ten Schools. I want to become a big Division-1 player. I don’t want to be a MAC player. I want to go BCS. That’s my goal.”
That is his goal if he decides to play college football.
“A lot of people don’t know this, but I’m a big track star,” Roush explained. “I was the #1 freshman shot-putter and distance thrower in the nation last year. I got a lot riding on me. People ask me whether I want to do track or football or what I want to do. But right now it’s just depending on what my skill level is going to be by the time I’m like a junior. The end of junior year is probably when I’m going to make my decision.”
Roush wears No. 75 (in white) from his right guard position: