With 30 scholarship offers spanning all regions of the country, including offers from seven of the teams ranked in the top ten of the final Bowl Championship Series rankings in 2007, Scottsdale (Ariz.) Chaparral High School defensive end Craig Roh faces a daunting task in whittling down his list. Ranked #173 in the initial Scout 300, Roh projects as an elite defensive end. But with his elite profile comes the likelihood that his decision will only become more and more difficult as additional colleges throw their hats in the ring for his services.
Faced with such a long initial list, Roh has set out on a series of unofficial visits in order to learn more about a few of his potential college destinations. So far this spring, Roh has visited USC, Stanford, and Oklahoma, all programs that have extended early offers to the junior. The Oklahoma visit this past weekend came most recently and Roh plans a fourth visit this coming weekend to Notre Dame.
"All the schools were really good," he says diplomatically.
While some may expect that a trio of unofficial visits would provide clarity to a muddled recruitment, Roh emphasizes that that has not been his experience thus far. He claims that his trips have "not really" made it any easier to narrow his choices down.
"Pretty much every school I go to I'm impressed with," he notes. "So it doesn't really help cut down the list at all."
Given the lack of an apparent favorite, Roh will continue visiting schools and compiling data points for future reflection and comparison. At this point, his recruiting process looks destined to stretch into the summer.
"Right now I'm just trying to get a lot of unofficial visits in just to see how the schools are," Roh confirms. "Hopefully over the summer I'll be able to see some more unofficial visits."
While his itinerary is largely to be determined, one school he expects to visit is Michigan since he will be spending two weeks in the state this summer to visit his father's family. It remains to be seen what other schools will join USC, Stanford, Oklahoma, Notre Dame, and presumably Michigan on the national tour that could serve as the basis for the top defensive end's ultimate decision. Similarly, Roh's precise timetable for making a decision remains fluid depending on circumstances and feel.
"I also would like to make a decision if everything went perfect, if I felt really good with a school, before my senior football season," he offers. "If I'm not feeling good with the decision I'll wait and I'll just look at the schools more."
Given the clear uncertainty permeating Roh's recruitment at this point, partisans for individual schools on his list can perhaps gain the most insight through his reflections on his specific interactions with those schools. In the case of Stanford, his visit to The Farm is fresh on his mind.
"The coaches were very knowledgeable," he begins in listing reflections on the visit two weekends ago. "The campus was amazing. And I actually got to be in one of the classes and just the faculty there is really amazing."
On a visit that included a tour of the campus and academic buildings, time meeting with an academic advisor and observing a class, a first-hand look at practice, and time with Stanford Head Coach Jim Harbaugh, one particular event made the biggest impression on Roh.
"The highlight for me was getting in the tape room with [Defensive Ends] Coach [D.J.] Durkin and just reviewing tape with him," Roh reflects. "We were going over like how they play their defensive ends and that was a real highlight for me."
While many coaches have emphasized to Roh that he has a good motor, a quick first step, and an ability to play explosively, the sit-down with Durkin allowed Roh to see more specifically how he might fit in with the Cardinal.
"I could be like a speed rusher and like a run down guy, too," he notes of his versatility. "Just kind of like an overall defensive end that can play a lot. They rotate in like four or five defensive ends, so they were saying that I could be playing earlier."
Aside from his film session with Durkin, Roh also received a chance to spend time with Harbaugh. The visit left him impressed.
"Coach Harbaugh just seemed like he is putting that program in the right direction," Roh opines. "He seems like a really smart head coach. I liked him."
Clearly Stanford and a host of other major programs like Roh as well. Stay tuned for more on Roh's experience with the unofficial visits that currently define what looks to be a wide-open and closely-watched recruitment.
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