A local high school football standout’s journey

By Zach Gray | gargoyle@flagler.edu

Former Nease High School football standout Matt Roth understands the relentless work ethic that is required to become a top player.

For the past two seasons, the 18-year-old Ponte Vedra Beach native has been the fixture of Nease’s defense and an absolute terror for opposing quarterbacks. Roth’s accomplishments for his senior season include 65 tackles, a team leading 10 sacks, three fumble recoveries, and most importantly, a full scholarship to continue his career at Virginia Tech University. He was also named to the all-county team for the 2010 season and was ranked in the Gainesville Sun’s Top 50 players in Florida that same year. Despite such impressive achievements, Roth is the first to acknowledge that the journey into the limelight has been anything but a walk in the park.

“When I transferred to Nease my junior year, I could tell I was going be in for a rude awakening if I didn’t work really hard,” he said. “Most of the guys were much bigger and stronger than I was.”

By the start of his senior season, however, his size was hardly an issue. Once an undersized and inexperienced underclassman, Roth now possesses a domineering 240-pound frame that draws heavy attention on the field.

In the Nease High School football program, hard work is a regularity and an expectation. However, the superstar’s work ethic certainly didn’t go unnoticed. While Roth continued to blossom, his coaching staff started to covet the prospect of having such a standout player. “It’s been really exciting to see Matt develop into the player that he is today,” said Nease defensive coach and former NFL linebacker Marco Coleman. “What he’s done here is really a great testament to the impact of hard work on results.”

The iconic defensive lineman’s determination also began to garner the attention and respect of his teammates. “I remember Matt coming to us in 2009 as an undeveloped player with a ton of potential,” said former teammate Kevin Gray. “Fortunately for us, he decided to commit himself to an unparalleled work ethic, and for that I have loads of respect for him.”

While his work ethic has earned him the spotlight, the respect of coaches and teammates and several reputable accolades, Roth’s biggest caveat to himself is to not let up as he continues his career at the collegiate level.

“My biggest fear is complacency,” he said. “I know that I’m going to have to work even harder at Virginia Tech because the competition once again will be bigger, stronger and faster.”

If his track record is any indication, it should be safe to say that Roth will do just that.

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