July 14, 2004
The Football Writers’ Association of America named Iowa senior defensive end Matt Roth to the 2004 Nagurski Trophy watch list on Tuesday. The Nagurski Trophy has been awarded to the best defensive player in the nation since 1993, and while two Big Ten players have won before, a Hawkeye never has.
Roth gained national attention last year after being named to the first team all-Big Ten, starting all 12 games and ranking second in the conference for QB sacks per game (a 0.88 average). He was also ranked 13th in the nation for sacks per game and 26th nationally in forced fumbles.
Roth, a native of Villa Park, IL, garnered Big Ten co-Defensive Player of the Week honors after recording four solo tackles, two assists, three sacks and a forced fumble that was turned into an Iowa touchdown helping the Hawkeyes post a 41-10 victory over Illinois last season.
“He’s a very high-energy player. He plays with great intensity. When you watched him play in high school, and since he’s been here, one thing you can say is that the guy enjoys playing the game.”
Head Coach Kirk Ferentz
Considering his performance, he is widely regarded as a future all-American, and has been named to the Playboy Magazine pre-season all-America team and is also one of 54 players named to the 2004 Rotary Lombardi Award Watch List, which recognizes the top collegiate lineman.
“He’s a very high-energy player,” Coach Kirk Ferentz said recently. “He plays with great intensity. When you watched him play in high school, and since he’s been here, one thing you can say is that the guy enjoys playing the game.”
Ferentz compared Roth with future Indianapolis Colt and former Hawkeye safety Bob Sanders when considering his energy and speed.
For his part, Roth has been going through more intense workouts under the supervision of strength coach Chris Doyle. In fact, Roth says he has probably surpassed his listed weight of 270 pounds. But he laments the fact that he “still has [his] six pack.”
“We’re having good workouts, and everyone seems to be working hard,” Roth said late last month. “Doyle’s been having us do a harder, more intense workout program, if you can believe that.”
And despite the accolades, the watch lists, and the other pressures of his senior season, Roth is confident about what his future holds.
“This is fun. No pressure now. Over four years, I’ve built up enough confidence working out and with coaches, so I feel this is my year to shine. I’m confident in myself that I can make things happen.”
Defensive end Matt Roth
“This is fun,” he said. “No pressure now. Over four years, I’ve built up enough confidence working out and with coaches, so I feel this is my year to shine. I’m confident in myself that I can make things happen.”
Roth joins two other Big Ten players, Michigan linebacker Pierre Woods and Ohio State defensive end Simon Fraser, on the watch list.
The Nagurski Trophy is named after University of Minnesota and Chicago Bears Hall of Famer Bronko Nagurski. The award will be handed out on Dec. 6.
Barry Pump, hawkeyesports.com