Duluth, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) --- University of Minnesota-Duluth (UMD) sophomore wide receiver Aaron Roth has seemed to start the 2012 season in the same place he left the 2011 year, in the end zone.
Roth scored the first home points of the season in a September 8 game against Winona State, that being an 89-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.
"Initially, I was just mad at myself for dropping the ball," Roth said of the play. "After that, though, I just picked it up and tried to get the sideline because I saw their whole team running down. Honestly, without the blocks from my teammates, none of that would have been possible. They pretty much escorted me to the end zone."
That touchdown showed fans something that Roth's teammates already knew, that the 5-foot-9 receiver has some big play potential for the Bulldogs.
"He's a strong guy. He's deceptively strong, and he packs a punch," senior tight end Ben Helmer said. "I think the kickoff return was the biggest example of that. He broke a few tackles out there, and he's fast too. He's a fun player to watch."
"He's kind of like a spark plug," junior wide receiver Joe Reichert said. "He's one of those guys that gets us rolling when we need a big play, for sure."
Helmer and Reichert were part of the blocking escort for Roth on that kickoff return, part of a special teams priority this season for UMD
"It's definitely been a huge point of emphasis for us this year," Roth said. "We want to come out and dominate all phases of special teams. Special teams is a big part of the football game, and I think a lot of teams overlook that."
"Special teams is kind of overlooked because it's not the offense or defense, but it's a vast amount of plays in a football game," Helmer said. "You want to put guys out there that are going to make plays. That's something we emphasized in the preseason and continue to emphasize now."
Roth's presence isn't just felt on the Bulldogs' special teams unit.
He's also turned into a trusted playmaker on offense.
Through three games this 2012 season, he has 11 catches for 138 yards and two scores for the Bulldogs.
"Aaron is playing with confidence right now, which is good," offensive coordinator Curt Wiese said. "He's continues to be a guy who plays consistent and can make big plays for us. He gives us the ability down the field to make plays."
Roth's knack for scoring has senior quarterback Chase Vogler comparing him to one of UMD's all-time best offensive playmakers, Mountain Iron native D.J. Winfield.
"Roth's a really great player for us, kind of reminiscent of D.J. [Winfield] from a few years ago, where D.J. always found a way to get in the end zone," Vogler said. "Roth is young, learning still, and he's only going to get better from here. Hopefully he can keep making plays on special teams and catching the ball as well."