Gocke, a first-team all-conference OT and JC Grid-Wire All-American from Grossmont College, likes contact. "My favorite play is straight up the gut," he says. But what really separates him from the rest of the pack is the fact that he doesn't quit until the whistle blows. "Some guys throw their blocks and just stand there. I follow the ball until I hear the whistle blow. Downfield, you get a few more good-looking blocks." That persistence would also explain why he had three fumble recoveries, three tackles after interceptions, and plenty of pancakes this season.
Grossmont, national champions in 2005, went 11-2 in the most recently completed campaign, losing 13-6 to Bakersfield in the second round of the playoffs. At Grossmont, Gocke has played all three positions on the offensive line. "I like playing tackle and I'd prefer to stay there at the next level, but last year as a center and guard I got to pull a lot and blow people up. I miss that." With a 4.8 time in the 40, it's easy to see why his mobility is an asset. Pretty impressive considering he had to rehab a broken leg last year.
Although he had a successful high school career at El Capitan in Lakeside, Calif., he was not heavily recruited. Enter Grossmont College. "I was actually working, and my dad told me that if I wanted to play football, he'd pay my bills. My dad has only missed one game in all these years, going back to Pop Warner. He'd see me at home sitting on the couch and say, ‘Hey, why don't you go to the gym?' My dad is my biggest fan, and the feeling is mutual."
Scheduled to graduate in summer of 2007, Gocke sports a 3.2 GPA and is planning to major in communications. He has been actively recruited by UC Davis by phone and hopes to matriculate there or a division 1 program after obtaining his AA. "It'd be nice to stay in California and play in my home state." In addition to football, he is also an avid track-and-field enthusiast. "My specialty is the throw," he says, "javelin, shot put, hammer, and discus."
Who knows, maybe he can throw something sharp or heavy in the next Lord of the Rings movie? But I still wouldn't suggest calling him a nerd.
SIDE NOTE: On 11/30/06 Gocke won the prestigious Joe Roth Memorial Award as an athlete in San Diego County best exemplifying ability as a football player, leadership, and character. He is the first lineman to win the award.
FROM WIKI-PEDIA: Joe Roth (died February 19,1977) was an All-American quarterback at the University of California at Berkeley who played the 1976 season with melanoma and tragically died 3 months after his last game, in 1977.
In 1974, he led Grossmont Junior College (San Diego, California) to an undefeated season and state title.
In 1975, after he won the starting role, he led the Cal Bears to the Pac-8 title as co-champions. His team had such stars as Chuck Muncie and Wesley Walker. As a team, Cal led the nation in total offense, remarkably gaining the same yardage both passing and rushing (2,522 yards passing and 2,522 yards rushing).
In 1976, he was a pre-season favorite for the Heisman Trophy. The season was more tumultuous, and towards the end of the year Joe's performance started to drop. Still he was named an All-American. After the season ended, he revealed that he played the last half of the season with melanoma. It was the re-occurance of a previously removed tumor. He died on Feb. 19, 1977.
Posthumously, Joe Roth received the Berkeley Citation, which is awarded to a wide range of distinguished people, academic or nonacademic, whose attainments significantly exceed the standards for advancement in their fields and whose contributions to the University of California at Berkeley are manifestly "above and beyond the call of duty." He was also inducted into the University of California Athletic Hall of Fame.
Several Awards are named in honor of Joe Roth, including the Joe Roth Award for the High School player in the San Diego, California area that best demonstrates courage, the Joe Roth Memorial Award which is given to the San Diego County junior college football player that best exemplifies high academic standards and athletic excellence, and the Joe Roth Award which is given to the Cal football player who best demonstrates courage, attitude & sportsmanship.
The University of California has designated the November 4, 2006 game versus UCLA as the Joe Roth Memorial Game.