By BRETT MARSHALL
When Zach Roth was playing high school football at Holcomb, it seemed like the time switching between playing offensive and defensive line positions made him realize how different each position can be.
When he was recruited by Garden City Community College, he was in much the same situation, brought in as a highly-touted defensive end/tackle after earning all-state honors for the Longhorns on defense in his senior season.
"It seemed like I was destined to play defense," Roth said recently.
All that has changed, though, for the 6-foot-6-inch, 316-pound senior "offensive" tackle, who has helped anchor the offensive line this season for the No. 5-ranked Texas Christian University Horned Frogs.
"I wasn't sure about it (changing to offense) because I had done well playing defense," Roth said in looking back at the switch when it was made between his freshman and sophomore seasons with the Broncbusters. "But coach (Lucas) Aslin said he thought I would have a better opportunity to play at the next level by switching to offense. So I just decided to take a shot and then learn the offensive line."
Playing the majority of time at left tackle for the Busters, Roth went on to earn Jayhawk Conference first-team honors and also was named to the Region 6 All-America team.
Roth said he prefers run blocking to pass blocking because he can be more aggressive.
"Like most football players, I enjoy hitting people," Roth said. "I'm not necessarily a patient person, and you can't be very aggressive in pass blocking. There, you're just reading the defensive end and feeling out his moves."
Roth said it is critical for him to have a low center of gravity to get leverage on the defender he is blocking.
"We'll watch hours of film to get an idea of what the other guy is inclined to do," Roth said.
During his recruitment by TCU, which is located in Fort Worth, Roth said he was impressed by Horned Frogs coach Gary Patterson, a native of Rozel, who played at Pawnee Heights High School and then at Kansas State University.
Roth has been starting at right tackle this season for the Horned Frogs after having played right guard for three games his junior year before getting injured and missing the remainder of the season. He says he likely played one too many games to receive a medical hardship.
"I'm going to graduate in December (communications major), so getting an extra season is not that big of a deal to me," said Roth, who already had been red-shirted his first year at TCU in 2008. "I'm not sure what I'm going to do. Perhaps I'll come back and start farming or pursue something in the communications field."
Roth fits the mold of what many NFL scouts are looking for in an offensive lineman — mobility, size, height, weight and experience.
"I've played most positions on the offensive line, and the pros like the versatility of a prospect," Roth said.
Roth laughs when discussing playing the left or right side positions on the offensive line, indicating that he is left-handed, but feels his right side is stronger.
"I'm just more comfortable on the right side," Roth said. "It's more powerful, and I think my foot movement is better when I go that direction."
Roth said it was like a dream come true to be playing on a nationally-ranked team that could be in the mix for the BCS Championship when the regular season winds down.
"It's been an incredible experience, I never would have imagined this several years ago," Roth said.
of being in a division I program such as TCU. "It's a privilege to be part of this. I've learned so much, not just about football, but about life. We're learning how to be good football players but also to be good human beings. It's Coach Patterson's way, and it's been a great opportunity for me."
Roth says he isn't concerning himself with the possibility of playing in the NFL and will take that in stride after the 2010 season is over.
"All I'm focused on right now is helping my team win all our games and graduating in December," Roth said. "The rest of things will take care of themselves."