ROCK DID, OR ROCK SQUARED
Chris Rock plays for Columbus DeSales, the alma mater of Patrick Omameh. He is considered at the present time a top 20 recruit in the 2011 Ohio class. Most who follow Michigan recruiting have known Chris’ name for several months. So, the fortunate writer, just like last week, regarding Trey DePriest, was able to observe and get to know another stellar student athlete, namely Chris Rock.
Chris Rock rocked under the lights the past Friday, hence the title Rock did or Rock squared. Every young football player, and not really selfishly, dreams about the one possible shining moment, whereby something of a great magnitude occurs enabling him to become the knight in shining armor, or the calvary riding to the rescue. Although every athlete prepares for such opportunities, through hard work and diligence to detail, there can be no guarantee that such an occurrence will ever happen. Coaches always used great motivating clichés or slogans. One old standby is “When preparation meets opportunity be ready.”
Last night, Chris Rock, through preparation and that random factor of opportunity sometimes referred to by coaches as being in the right time at the right place, literally grabbed his opportunity and in the process perhaps saved the game for St. Francis DeSales.
Although it is not good practice to give readers the highlight at the top of a story, leaving the remainder of a story as perhaps anticlimactic, it is in this case satisfying. And so, here is a description of the event that made news in Columbus the Columbus suburb of New Albany on Friday, September 11.
In a very tight game, in every regard, New Albany was moving the ball very well on the always-tough DeSales defense. Chris Rock, defensive end, was flipped to the side of the ensuing play, a rollout pass. Through happenstance or assignment Chris ended up almost directly in front of the quarterback. The ball was fired hard, but Chris got his hands up and not only made contact, but actually snagged the ball, no small feat considering the short distance and timeframe Chris then took off on a trip up the field that ended up at the writer’s feet out of bounds. A few seconds later, he emerged from the bottom of a large pile of happy high school football players. This quick as a flash turnaround was enough for DeSales to basically control the game and run the clock out. Ah, the stuff dreams are made of.
Even though the crescendo came first, let us learn more about young Mr. Rock. Chris Rock is a junior at Columbus DeSales. He plays defensive end and it appears he switches to the side of the formation that is strong regarding receivers in the backfield. He can play tight end but played defense only during this game.
Chris stated his size at 6”5 and 250 pounds. His father appears to be marginally taller than Chris, leading to the possibility that Chris may not be finished in his vertical ascension. There is clear room for Chris to put 20 plus pounds on his frame. Chris does not appear to have much interest in the usual measurements of 40 time and bench press figures. But around 4.9 seemed to be the likely 40-time number.
Chris and his brother are very proud of his academic achievement, an approximate 3.6 grade average with several advanced placement courses. DeSales is a Blue Ribbon award winner for academic excellence. The staff is exceptionally dedicated regarding service to the student body. Faculty and parents with whom I spoke all gave Chris Rock high marks as a person and student. There is genuine excitement from the DeSales family regarding his future.
Like the previous week, the weather was perfect for football. New Albany has outstanding facilities on campus and the football program has enjoyed recent success. DeSales’ program has reloaded for decades, with the common expectation being a trip deep into the playoffs in either Division 2 or Division 3. Both of these teams could play at the level of many Division 1 teams. In fact, DeSales frequently plays a brutal schedule that includes games against the very best in Ohio, often playing up a division or two. DeSales “sometimes limps” into the playoffs with a few losses, but once in the playoffs DeSales is a threat against anyone within the assigned division.
The sharpness of both teams, especially on offense, was impressive. But as typically happens, defense settled the issue. DeSales qb is a very good game manager, who broke a long run thru the right side on a beautifully sealed play. This effort put DeSales on top 13-7, which was the final score. New Albany’s qb throws very well and the receivers ran excellent routes. Archie Griffin’s son, Adam, plays tailback and defensive back for DeSales. It is very enjoyable watching him play and he is almost certainly a great joy to coach. Adam has talent and it is fair to state he is more quick than fast. But he plays with total abandon. DeSales has a very strong placekicker, who hit from near fifty yards in the warm-ups. His style was excellent as was the rotation and path of his kicks,
Games like this frequently hinge on the mind-set and stubbornness of the defense. DeSales has always had this mindset. DeSales played a pretty standard 4-3 and relied on execution and assignments rather than tons of tricks.
Defense certainly was the final game determiner. In the first half, New Albany drove somewhat easily to the DeSales 2 foot line. A field goal was the result. Later, New Albany had to settle for another short field goal, narrowing the score to 7-6. Many on the sideline were discussing whether or not New Albany would go for 1 to tie or 2 to win on the extra point try, since it looked very likely that New Albany would score. And then: THE PLAY.
Make no mistake, this was a team win and DeSales has some very good size and talent. However this play by Chris will be remembered. I hope some video does end up for public preventing some future grump from labeling this as an “urban legend.” Like all enjoyable wins, this one is now in the past and Chris Rock will be back to business Monday, working to get better. But even before this memorable moment Chris has been lovingly referred to by some of the DeSales faithful as “our Baby Monster,” since he is an underclassman.
What football qualities does Chris Rock possess that has already yielded high interest from major universities? His size and weight, discussed above, obviously draw interest. But, it must be stated that Chris possesses athleticism that will separate him from many 6’5 250 pound players in the film room.
Chris does not mind mixing it up, a trait that is an absolute necessity for a college defensive lineman, where the environment is one of survival of the fittest with no mercy asked or given. Chris contained pretty well all night and several times tackled guys outside the pocket area. He did not get locked up often. Chris also applied good pressure and used those long arms to knock down several passes. Chris rushes the pocket reasonably well, but as of yet is not the rare lightning fast edge rusher every university craves.
Coaches who apply careful observation and do their homework will likely come up with the conclusion that Chris has a very high upside, and this may be Chris’ most important recruiting quality. The offers will be there and Chris will be in a position many dream of, having a choice of very desirable universities to attend?
Of course, there will be plenty of work for Chris to do in the next two years, to maximize his potential. Likely Chris hears from his coaches to work on those knees a little, get some pad leverage, and work on tackling. Chris made some great efforts at grabbing ball carriers but the feet stopped and he relied on his long arms. At the next level, he will have to get to the runner sooner and wrap. College runners are a different breed and possess a much higher skill level. Chris has reasonable strength but let runners drag him a little a time or two. This may be likely to the leverage lost by not getting a complete wrap.
So, who does Chris remind me of? Anthony Lalota and Ryan Van Bergen come to mind. And by next year Chris will be almost the size of both.
Chris and his family members (mother and brother) were exceptionally nice to chat with during and after the game. Gratitude is hereby expressed for their kindness and again it is so pleasing to see the pride and support coaches, parents, faculty and family demonstrate to the fine student athletes the writer has visited this year. The writer has been fortunate.
Gratitude must also be expressed to Head Coach Ryan Wiggins of DeSales for taking time after the game to comment and reflect. Coach Wiggins is a young head coach at one of Ohio’s most successful programs, and frankly it is very easy to see why he was selected to be in charge of the DeSales tradition. His leadership, preparation skills, knowledge and coaching techniques were apparent. Take note: any student athlete within his charge is in good hands and his advice should be held in high esteem.
New Albany played very well and will win games. The offensive philosophy and execution is very sound.
In an informal discussion after the game, Chris clearly stated an interest in Michigan. This interest is more than casual. Chris and his brother went to the WMU game and enjoyed the day. Chris visited the OSU-USC game as well. The discussion continued with an agreement that defensive end would likely be his final destination. So far his input from programs indicates growing into a defensive tackle may not be in the cards. The writer concurs and believes strong DE is a likely future destination.
Chris is aware of Trey DePriest and stated he heard Trey was strong (he sure is). Readers should know that Chris Rock is, like Trey DePriest a very talented player who also happens to be a scholar and citizen of high note, and that is enough to justify why Trey and Chris Rock have already created so much excitement in Michigan recruiting circles.
Best of luck to DeSales, the Rock family and New Albany in the future.
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Written by Doc4Blu