U-M DE Roh finds niche on strong side

Michigan senior Craig Roh is preparing to play his third position in four years — strong side defensive end.

“They initiated it, but (defensive coordinator) Greg Mattison was very avid on explaining that’s really the best fit for me,” Roh said. “I truly believed it, too. I’m more of a guy that’s a point of the attack, explosive guy. I just need to put the weight on now.

“From what I’ve done so far in spring, I really like the position because the ball’s coming to you a lot more and it seems like you have the opportunity to make more plays. Plus you don’t have to run as much to get to the ball, which is nice.”

The way U-M coach Brady Hoke described it, Roh will face more double-team blocks but is probably better suited to taking them on. Ryan Van Bergen played the spot most of last season.

Roh’s rough journey last year under Mattison’s eye at the weak side defensive end spot — the “open side” as Hoke called it — was well-documented. Roh explained that his “epiphany” came during fall camp last year when he broke down emotionally in front of his family.

He finished with 32 tackles, eight for loss, including four sacks, in 13 games in 2011.

This year, he’s expected to increase those numbers and follow Van Bergen in a leadership role. That starts by getting his body ready for the position by gaining weight — he has gained 10 pounds since last season, up to 270 and hopes to get another 10 by the games this fall.

Roh is more of a passive personality, but he is finding his niche vocally as well.

“I think it’s kind of funny because when you become a senior all of a sudden you’re expected to step up in that role,” Roh said. “Winter conditioning was a great place to do that. Where you could be more vocal and you have guys follow you.

“Really it’s not just being the loudest guy, it’s serving your teammates. I think really that’s the true definition of leadership. You understand how each of your teammates ticks and you know how to motivate them.”

Contact Mark Snyder: [email protected] Follow him on Twitter http://www.twitter.com/freepwolverines” TARGET=“TOP”@freepwolverines.

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