Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) --- It's a nickname that has followed Aaron Roth, not only from Wayzata, Minn. to Duluth, Minn., but also from eighth grade to college.
"From what I remember it was eighth grade basketball practice, we were doing some conditioning," Roth said, "and I guess I was looking pretty slow and hunched over a little bit. They started calling me 'Turtle,' and it stuck from there."
The nickname now is intended more for comic relief than for accuracy, as Roth has turned into one of the best and quickest playmakers for the University of Minnesota-Duluth (UMD) football team.
That's despite being listed, perhaps generously, at 5-foot-10, 180 pounds.
"I try to use my size as an advantage to me," the junior captain said. "I'm a little smaller than most of the guys I'm playing against, so I've got to put myself in a position where they don't see me or I'm a step quicker than they are."
"I think size is sometimes an overrated thing when you're recruiting," UMD head coach Curt Wiese said. "If you look at our receiving corps as a whole, we're looking for guys with athleticism, the abiluty to change direction, and a good attitude. Aaron came out of Wayzata, where he made a lot of plays and took that team to the state championship. We knew the type of kid he was, and he certainly has grown at UMD even since Wayzata."
The early part of that growth came with veteran quarterback Chase Vogler at the controls.
Now, as a junior captain, it's been Roth's turn to be the veteran and help out freshman quarterback Drew Bauer.
"We did get out on the field a lot more than we did with Chase because back then we had a little more chemistry and timing," Roth said. "I think that's really paying off for us now, and things are starting to click."
"Roth is a big playmaker out there," Bauer said, "and I try to get him the ball as much as I can. It's one of the attacking points in our offense."