Justin Roemer '06
Roemer finished fifth in the NESCAC last season with 77 tackles, including 8.5 takedowns for loss.

Amherst's Roemer "Rocks" Gridiron

October 5, 2005

AMHERST, MA - Players on a football team are usually asked to perform specific duties. Cornerbacks are responsible for pass coverage, and defensive linemen are called on to rush the quarterback and get into the backfield. On the other hand, senior Justin Roemer (Jupiter, FL/Benjamin School) is called on to do a little bit of everything for the Amherst College football team.

Roemer plays outside linebacker, or "Rock" as the Jeffs call it, which in the 3-4 defensive scheme that head coach E.J. Mills runs carries a large amount of responsibilities. "Arguably it's the hardest position to play in our defense," said Mills. A position that takes a bit from every other spot on the defense, a Rock is called on to contain the outside, take on blocks from a variety of linemen, blitz the quarterback and at times drop into pass coverage.

"It's really an inbetween position," Roemer added. "Sometimes you're a defensive lineman, then you'll find yourself as a linebacker, dropping back into coverage, and then other times you're in the gray area of this position that Coach Mills created."

Roemer studied the position thoroughly in his first two seasons and strongly disliked it at first. "I hated it," he said. "But I've grown to really love it. It allows you to make a lot of plays as you can get good reads because other teams don't know what you're going to do."

After earning the starting job as a junior, Roemer took the NESCAC by storm with his talent and versatility. In the Jeffs' short but daunting eight-game schedule, Roemer rolled out an impressive statline that included 77 tackles, good for fifth in the conference, 8.5 tackles-for-loss, 2.5 sacks, six pass breakups and an interception. He made his mark early in the season, racking up 15 tackles in a 34-28 double-overtime win at Bowdoin, later notched nine tackles, including 3.0 for loss and 1.5 sacks, in a 38-3 victory at Wesleyan and posted 13 takedowns in a rain-soaked 10-3 loss at Tufts.

"I finally felt comfortable enough to just go out and play," said Roemer. Two seasons of watching, learning and playing in situational defensive schemes put him in a position to have success in his junior season. He no longer had to worry about the smaller details. He could finally just play and let his natural athletic instincts take over.

"Justin is an outstanding player with tremendous abilities," said Mills. "He's big, runs well and there's a lot of positions he can play, and this makes him invaluable to our team."

What makes these feats even more impressive is the fact that Roemer played half the season with a club-like cast on his left arm to protect torn ligaments in his thumb. The cast extended from his fingers to just below the elbow and served as both a gift and a curse. "It made things a lot more difficult, and I had to improvise," said Roemer. "It was harder to shake off blocks, and interceptions were out of the question, but on the other hand I had this club that was an asset in pass rushing and tipping passes."

Already off to a good start this season, Roemer posted five tackles in Amherst's lopsided 28-3 season-opening victory at Hamilton, and racked up 10 tackles and an interception in a 16-13 loss to visiting Bowdoin last weekend. "We've set our goals high this year," he said. "I think we have what it takes to go out and win all of our games, convincingly, and be the best team in the NESCAC. Coach Mills reminds us to take it one game at a time, but we have a lot of potential at every position."

If Roemer's responsibilities were not already impressive enough with all that Rock requires, the Jeffs are also prepared to call on him for their field-goal kicking duties this fall. He played competitive soccer up through his junior year of high school, traveling with club teams all over the country, until he decided that he wanted to concentrate solely on football. Despite being far behind him, those soccer skills are sure to come in handy this season.

Amherst was the only Division III football program that Roemer was considering being a part of during his high school football recruitment. With official visits scheduled at Patriot League institutions Holy Cross and Bucknell, Roemer made the trip up from his home in Jupiter, Fla. to the Pioneer Valley to see what Amherst had to offer. "When I got back from Amherst I called Holy Cross and Bucknell and cancelled my visits," Roemer added. "I loved the school and I loved the team. I knew Amherst was the place for me."

A political science major, Roemer hasn't had a shortage of experiences away from the football field. He had an internship with Florida Congressman Mark Foley during the summer before his junior year, spent last spring studying abroad in Syndey, Austrailia, and then returned home to Florida this past summer for an internship with Morgan Stanley. "The chance to go abroad while still being able to play football was amazing," Roemer added. "Sydney was incredible. It was one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen."

With very little time on his hands away from football and classes, Roemer spends his free time solidifying his political science savvy by keeping up on current events or keeping his mind on the gridiron, playing the Madden( series football videogames with his teammates. He is also very excited about a return to the intramural softball fields this spring after missing last season studying in Sydney.

With his father, Robert, a lawyer, and his brother, Chris, currently in law school, Roemer is considering following the family tradition to pursue law school next year. He also has his eyes open to investment banking and a possible career with sports, but all in all he's keeping his options open. "I want to see everything that's out there before I make a decision this big," he said.

While Roemer is thinking of following the tradition set by his father and older brother, he's begun a following of his own with his younger brother, Kevin, and sister, Brooke, within football. Kevin is a senior in high school and handles the kicking duties for his football team, while Brooke is a cheerleader for her middle school football team.

Despite the vast array of responsibilities and things that he's asked to perform, Roemer is up to the task. Whether he's pulling down a quarterback for a sack, batting balls down in the secondary or blasting field goals between the goal posts, one thing remains clear: he is solid as a "Rock" all over the field.