There's a certain attitude that goes with being down in the trenches. It's not the glamour position. It's not the position that everyone likes to laud over as they regale statistical achievements.
They are linemen and whether on the offensive or defensive side, while mostly drowned in the backwash of stories gushing over those that play behind them, their contributions remain the most significant on the field. As they say, the game is won in the trenches.
One of those warriors from the down position is Craig Roark, a stout and sturdy, 285 pounder, residing on a 6'3" frame, that knows just what it takes to succeed where most are wary to travel. "You have to be nasty." Roark stated of the attitude to play the interior. "There's people out there that are good linemen, but don't know how to finish blocks. You have to have that nasty attitude to finish those blocks off."
Finishing off is something Roark is looking to do as not just a player, but as a member of his Ada high school team, Ada being ousted in the quarter-finals last year. Youth almost predominate on the team, Roark is very excited about what's in store as goals are riding high for this his final year of prep-football. "We are going to be a lot better this year." he said. "Last year, we were just a junior team and we have almost everyone coming back. We'll be really good this year."
No doubt Craig's main concern is how his team does overall, but with a young man that is receiving as much attention as he has thus far, it would be impossible not to look at the team he's going to play when high school is far behind.
And, it won't be for a lack of choices, because as Craig stated, the attention via letters is coming from almost more places than he can count. "I've gotten about 300 letters so far." he said. "I had a shoe-box for them, but that's not big enough anymore, so now I have this notebook I put them all in."
That's actually saying a lot that a young man with size 15 feet can't fit all his letters of interest within it, but chances are, Roark will have the same issue with written offers as well, Craig sporting 3 right now, waiting on a fourth that should soon arrive at his house. "I've gotten written offers from Baylor, Nebraska and Arizona State." he said. "And, Oklahoma State is supposed to be offering soon to."
Speaking of one of the home-state schools, many assumptions will be made as to Roark's future if that other home-state school follows the Cowboys eventual offer in writing. Most will assume that Roark is like the majority of Oklahoma kids, wishing, hoping for that offer, ready to commit in an instant if it does indeed come.
Not so fast, Roark stated as though he is indeed a Oklahoma kid, he's not necessarily hell bent for an Oklahoma future. "If you would have asked me this four months ago, I probably would have committed right there." he said. "Now though, I am keeping all my options open and there's no place I'm not looking."
"I want to see what's out there."
What's out there right now is a whole lot of unofficial visits slated for the near-future as Roark stated that he's going to be putting some miles on the family car with the intention of seeing every place he can.
One of those stops will be to Nebraska for their annual Red/White game, but that's just the tip of the iceberg. "I've been to Baylor and Oklahoma State." Roark stated. "And, I am going to Texas A&M the 27th, Missouri on the 2nd (April), Arkansas the 3rd, Kansas on the 9th, Kansas State on the 10th and then, the Nebraska visit on the 17th."
Well, hopefully for him and his family, they are renting and getting unlimited mileage.
What seems unlimited are the choices that Roark could have by the time signing day arrives. During the off-season where he's to make so many visits and of course his performance on the field this year, the attention should only get more intense, Roark probably having to find another notebook for all the letters he's receiving.
Craig said that he's going to take it in stride though, making sure to enjoy the process, but is not sure how long he'll let the whole thing play out. "This is a once in a lifetime experience." he said. "You have to enjoy it, but I'll make my decision on where I go when I feel that everything is right."
"If everything just clicks and I get along with the coaches and like the school, I'll commit, but you don't know if that's going to happen or when. So, I'm just going to enjoy everything while it happens."
A couple of sidenotes:
Craig was actually invited to participate in the U.S. Army All-American Combine, but because of some Oklahoma rule that states if you compete in such competition, you won't be allowed to participate in sports following, Roark had to decline.
Roark has a 3.8 GPA and scored a 23 on his first crack at the ACT. He stated that he'll be retaking the test.