Adjusting to a new position is one of the hardest things to do in football. It is not like in soccer, baseball, or basketball where you essentially just have a different responsibility, but maintain the same fundamentals and motions. In football, if you change position, it is like changing your major in college; nothing that you learned from before is applicable, the terminology is confusing, and everyone is further ahead.
For 3-Star offensive tackle Matt Rosso, his transition from defensive tackle to offensive tackle has not been an easy feat, but it has been working so far.
Rosso, a 5’6, 260-pounder out of Fairless Hills, PA, played defensive tackle for most of his high school career. On rare occasions (mainly injury), Rosso would be inserted into the offensive line of the Pennsbury High School Falcons.
In an interview with nj.com, Rosso said, “I’ve been playing [football] for years. I started flag when I was young. But I played defense for the most part,” said Rosso. “I played (offensive tackle) freshman year, but then I went back to defense. I played one game (at tackle) last year, but not really. One game when someone got hurt.”
Rosso has shown to possess good fundamentals at offensive tackle. He’s quick on his feet, has fast, powerful hands, and a kick step that can get him into the backfield fast enough to stop would-be pass rushers from touching the quarterback. Rosso also told NJ.com that he believes that his best attribute is as a pass blocker.
“I think I’m best at pass blocking,” he said. “I went to a trainer to learn that during the camp season. But that’s all I really know. I have a lot to learn.”
Rosso really does have a lot to learn. During Rutgers’ 2017 East Coast Elite Recruitment Camp, Rosso was impressive at right tackle; being able to keep defenders from penetrating the pocket. However, his rush blocking has room for improvement. While he has good balance and good posture in the passing game, Rosso needs to learn to maintain discipline when rush blocking. He must learn to keep his hands in a defensive player chest and keep the legs pumping.
He also needs to improve his explosiveness off the snap. As a defensive tackle, exploding into the block is easier, since a DT has much more momentum and control on the line as they blast off. For an offensive tackle, they have to maintain a crouching two-to-three-point stance, and then immediately explode into the defender’s chest for the block. On his HUDL page, Rosso seems less explosive in his stance as an offensive tackle. He seems to catch defenders more than trying to block them, which could result in a large amount of holding counts, or worse; get overpowered and let defenders right through.
Rosso has the raw talent and athleticism. He has some experience on the line, especially in the passing game. But if he hopes to make it in the Big Ten, he is going to need to drastically improve his O-line work, especially in a conference that leans so heavily on the run.
Overall, he is a recruit with a lot of upside and potential. Likely coming in as a redshirt freshman, the hope is he can perfect himself, eventually rising up to becoming a premiere tackle for the Scarlet Knights.
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