As you get older time seems to go faster, especially when you have time to reflect back on a period of your life that you're about to leave behind. Derek Roback (6-foot-2, 221-pounds) is going through that experience as he prepares to move from being a high school senior at Waverly High School (Ohio) to being a freshman at Notre Dame.
"I just had my last day of school on Friday," Roback said. "It's an interesting feeling. We had a baseball tournament last weekend and a make-up game this week. That was our last game, so everything is over as far as high school except graduation. It's a little bittersweet knowing that you're leaving everything that you've ever known for a long period of time. But it's also the next step and another step to something better.
"I think I'm most excited to get out and see a different part of the world and learn new things. I think there's going to good days and bad days, but I think it's going to be exciting. I'm sure there will be weeks that things go well and there will be times that they don't.
"I think it's going to be quite an experience, he said. "I'm not exactly sure what's its going to be like, but it'll definitely be a big change. In some ways it will be good, but in some ways it will be tough. What you put into it will just make me stronger in the end."
Adding to the uncertainty is that Roback is still a man without a position. Derek could end up playing safety, wide receiver or even quarterback, the position he played in high school.
"I have no idea," Roback responded when asked if his position had been determined. "It doesn't really matter to me, I just want to get up there and play. Once we get on campus we'll figure that out. I've talked to Danny Spond, because we're going to room together over the summer, and he has no idea either. We'll just get up there and figure it out once we get on campus and go from there.
"I've talked to coach Hinton quite a few times and I came from the weekend of the spring game. I know that they're traveling all over the country right now recruiting. They sent us a workout program so I've been working on that and trying to get as prepared as I can be. I'm doing all the stuff I'm supposed to do, and its hard work, but I know everyone out there is working just as hard, so it just matters how hard that you're going to push yourself."
Roback was recruited by Brian Kelly while he was at Cincinnati, so he is familiar with the effort Kelly expects from his players. And Derek's visit to the Blue-Gold game only confirmed what he already knew.
"It was very fast-paced, which is all you've ever heard about coach Kelly and all that you've seen from him," Roback explained. "The offense was very fast-paced. It wasn't to that extent, but our offense in our high school offense was like that. We ran a lot of two-minute offense, and I like it a lot. It's unpredictable and you never know what to expect. It's definitely something that once the kids get the hang of that it will be a very potent offense. "
In less than a month Derek will be in a new world enjoying his experiences as a freshman at Notre Dame. As he reflects back on the path he took that lead him to Notre Dame he realizes that he has already gone through a tremendous learning experience.
"I was just talking to someone about how much I thought the recruiting process made me mature," he recalled. "Just the interaction with adults on a weekly and daily basis…the phone calls, and talking to them in person. You're always trying to impress the coaches and I think it really helped me mature. Getting back with the coaches when they call, making sure that you stay in contact with them really made me mature.
"Probably one of the things that I noticed was all the different styles or techniques that they used to persuade you in their direction. It wasn't the same spiel. It wasn't that their school was the best at something in the country, but they each approached it in a different way."
Roback Expecting Big Changes
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