Craig Roh takes unconventional path to Michigan record for career starts
ANN ARBOR -- Jon Jansen started every game of his Michigan career at right tackle, earning the moniker "Rock."
Craig Roh has started every game of his career, although switched positions every year to do it.
Saturday, they'll meet atop the Michigan record book.
Roh, a senior defensive end, will make his 50th consecutive start when the No. 20 Wolverines (8-3, 6-1) visit No. 4 Ohio State (11-0, 7-0) this weekend (noon, ABC). That will tie Jansen for the most career starts in Michigan's 133-year history.
Roh then could pass Jansen for sole possession of the record in the Wolverines' bowl game.
"My freshman year, I was just hoping for some playing time," Roh said this week. "Sophomore year, trying to get better; junior year, trying to get better -- and now, I guess it's come to this."
The path wasn't easy, nor was it conventional.
Roh began his career as a 230-pound linebacker who manned the "quick" position in former defensive coordinator Greg Robinson's scheme. He switched to outside linebacker for his sophomore season, then weak-side defensive end last year.
He finished his career this season fittingly by making yet another position change, this time to strong-side defensive end.
Roh's career spanned four positions. It started at 230 pounds and will finish at 281. It sunk to playing for the worst defense in school history, and rose to playing for one of the best in the country.
"I guess you could say it's versatility," Roh said with a laugh. "I don't want to talk about myself too much, but I think it's pretty cool. I'm blessed."
Roh will tie the school mark in a game that means more than any other.
He started his career with two consecutive losses to Ohio State, and quickly learned that his legacy at Michigan would hinge on how he finished his career against the Buckeyes.
Roh started -- of course -- in last year's 40-34 win against the Buckeyes, which snapped a seven-game losing streak, and now is angling to finish his career with two straight wins in the series.
"(Growing up in) Arizona, you don't really care about sports all that much," Roh said. "That's just the truth. You don't follow a team, specifically. In the Midwest, this rivalry is just so much bigger and that's something that when I was being recruited, I really wanted to experience.
"There is so much tradition, and it's hard to grasp all of it. But just seeing the rivalry and the intensity throughout the years, like when Ohio came out and tore down the banner and then we got it back up."
"That'd be awesome (to finish with a win), especially going down to their place and beating them. I don't know what winning there is like, but I'd love to experience it."
He's experienced just about everything else, so why not?