Tyler Takeda/The Madera Tribune
Liberty running back Wyatt Roth and his family are all smiles after he signed his National letter of Intent to Western Colorado University. From left are his brother Joe, wyatt, father Karl and mother Shellie.
Following in his brother’s footsteps wasn’t quite enough for Liberty Hawks senior Wyatt Roth. Blowing past him was.
In a record breaking season for the Hawks football team, Roth signed his National Letter of Intent to attend and play football at Western Colorado University, a year after brother Kaleb signed his letter to South Dakota School of Mines.
Now the focus will be on Week 2 of the football season when Wyatt’s Mountaineers faces Kaleb’s Rockers in Gunnison, Colorado on Sept. 14.
“That will be a good game,” Wyatt said.
Roth signed his letter at a signing ceremony at Liberty on Feb. 6, continuing a tradition of Liberty football players singing letters.
“The amount of pride you feel when your players have a chance to move on is a special thing,” Liberty football coach and athletic director Mike Nolte said. “Wyatt has worked hard. He deserves every bit of this. It’s a special thing to watch you players move on.”
However, for Wyatt, it was watching Kaleb’s signing day that motivated him for his senior season.
“Kaleb and I have always compared stats and competed that way,” Wyatt said. “Seeing him set lots of records and high standards just made me want to get past that. It’s all in good fun.”
For Nolte, it was gratification watching two players, who were the hardest workers on the team and one of the best players, receive something they’ve been working hard at.
“The kind of work ethic the Roth boys put in, coupled with the skills they have make a good combination,” Nolte said. “I say it all the time when your best players are you hardest workers, you’re going to do something good. They epitomize that, for sure.
“Hopefully the kids in the program see Wyatt signing and use it as a motivating factor and we can continue to have more of these signing parties. It’s important for the kids to be here and see it to continue the tradition.”
Instead of Western Colorado recruiting Wyatt, he found them and it went from there.
“I really like Colorado,” he said. “I thought it would be a great place to live so I thought of what are some schools in Colorado. I did some research and found this school. I got in contact with them and talked to their coach. He’s a great guy. We’ve been in contact ever since. He offered after the season and I went on a visit and loved it. It’s in a great city, it’s a great college, a great atmosphere in both athletics and academics and the campus culture is great. I reached out first. They responded and it went from there.”
Roth hopes to be able to play right away, unlike his brother, who was redshirted.
“They said if you can play right away, we’re going to play you,” he said. “But, they also said they aren’t going to waste my freshman year and I could redshirt. From what I understand, running back is going to be a wide open competition. I’m looking forward to competing for a starting spot. We’ll see what happens.”
Roth recounted the days as a middle schooler watching Liberty football and looking up to the players and success the program had.
“I remember going to Liberty football games in middle school,” he said. “I remember Wade Wallace, Chad Wallace, Richie Brandt, Kendall Malone, Christian Baker and just the fact that I have better stats than them is mind blowing. You grow up watching these athletes play football at the school you’re going to go to, you get this image they are a superstar. Then, you realize, you’re senior year comes around and you’re in the same position. A great thank you to the fans, the community and an even bigger thank you to my teammates and coaches for putting me in position to have success.”
After he looked up to players, he became one of those players and understands the responsibility he holds by being a varsity football player.
“It’s a little weird to have kids look up to me,” he said. “I never really thought of myself in that position. Now that I am, it’s humbling and I’m very thankful for it and it’s a lot of fun. It’s neat to get autographs. I feel like a superstar. I’m just a kid that plays football on Fridays.”
Now that Roth is signed, he is thankful to get the worry out of his mind and will enjoy the final four months of the school year.
“This has been something I’ve been working towards and worrying about since my freshman year,” he said. “It’s all come to fulfillment at a great college that I really like. It’s very rewarding. I’m very thankful for it.”