Wauseon grad excelled at University of Toledo

David Rohrs (in 1987) earned his physical education degree at Toledo, where he played running back.
David Rohrs (in 1987) earned his physical education degree at Toledo, where he played running back.

In Their Words is a weekly feature appearing Sundays in The Blade's sports section. Blade sports writer Zach Silka talked with David Rohrs, who played at Wauseon High School and the University of Toledo in the mid-1980s.

David Rohrs has traveled all over the world, but his runs on the football fields at Wauseon and UT will always be what he's remembered for best in this neck of the woods.

Rohrs, a former running back for the Indians and Rockets, will be inducted into the Wauseon hall of fame with six others at the school's season-opening basketball game Dec. 5 against Archbold.

Fittingly, one of Rohrs' best games came against the Blue Streaks.

During his senior season in 1983, Rohrs rushed for 257 yards and three touchdowns in a 27-21 victory over Archbold. He finished the year with 1,150 yards on the ground in just eight games, earning all-league, all-district, and all-Ohio honors.

In his prep career, Rohrs totaled more than 2,500 rushing yards and 28 touchdowns. He also was co-captain of a memorable senior class that had a three-year varsity record of 23-5-2.

Rohrs also lettered in track at Wauseon and anchored the 400-meter relay team that earned a league championship and advanced to the state meet.

From there, Rohrs won three varsity letters in football and one in indoor track at UT.

While sitting out his freshman season as a redshirt in 1984, the Rockets won a Mid-American Conference Championship and claimed a victory in the California Bowl over UNLV on a forfeit after it was deemed the Rebels used ineligible players earlier that year.

Rohrs went on to become the Rockets' starting running back and led the team with 681 yards on 178 carries in 1987.

After earning his degree in physical education, Rohrs spent two years serving in the Peace Corps in Yemen before a civil war forced the evacuation of American civilians.

For the next 10 years, Rohrs was employed by the Los Angeles-based International Modeling Agency and traveled across Europe.

He then switched careers and worked for several years as a special education teacher in Hawaii before making his way back to northwest Ohio, where he works as a personal trainer at Urban Active.

Rohrs resides in Maumee with his wife, Bidya, and their 3-month-old daughter, Brooke.

"I REMEMBER when I was in seventh grade and my coach, Dave Moore, put me at running back. He was my first coach to put me at running back, and that's where it all got started really."

"It was really cool because the guys that I played with, they were all my buddies. We grew up together. We knew what the other guy was going to do without really having to think about it because we played together from the seventh grade on. We grew up as playmates together. We went fishing together and did lots of fun things together outside of football. Then when we got on the field, we really connected with each other because we had that off-field connection. We were undefeated our seventh, eighth, and ninth grade years."

"I always give credit to my quarterback, Jack Warncke, for getting me to college. We ran the option, where he had a choice to give me the ball or keep it. And a lot of times, he would give me the ball on the option. He gave me these pitches that left me with like 70 yards of clear running room, so all I would do is get the pitch and run. Also, my offensive line, some of those guys were my best friends. I'd take them out for pizza if I went over a 100 yards in any game."

"WE HAD A lot of success and that came with the tradition at Wauseon. I had watched the older guys that played before me, and they built a tradition. And coach Fruth, he was a good man. He wanted you to not only be a great football player but also be a good person."

"My high school coach, Larry Fruth, wrote a letter to [then-Ohio State assistant] Jim Tressel, and he started recruiting me. He would come to my games, and the third game of the season my senior year, I had gotten in a car accident. After that, Tressel saw I had a broken wrist and had stitches in my head, and he shook my hand and said, 'Good luck.' I kind of missed the boat on Ohio State because of the accident, but it turned out very well anyway because I got recruited by Toledo."

"WE HAD A great game at the end of the year against Archbold, which got me my scholarship. [Then-UT assistant] Ron Curtis was recruiting me, and he saw me play against Archbold. It was our best game of the season, and even though we weren't going to state, beating Archbold was really great for us. Then right after the game, [Curtis] offered me a full scholarship that night. I had a couple other offers, but I signed with Toledo right away."

"I got redshirted as a freshman, so I got to go to California [for the bowl game] but never stepped on the field."

"Brent Williams, who ended up getting drafted with the New England Patriots, was a senior when I was a freshman, and he took me under his wing. He gave me confidence and would tell me I ran like Marcus Allen. We had a brotherhood on the team and all came together as one."

"THE BIGGEST thrill of my career was getting tackled by 'Neon' Deion Sanders when we played against Florida State [in 1986]. Stepping on the field in front of 70,000 people [at Doak Campbell Stadium] was just about the highlight of my career."

"MY QUARTERBACK, Steve Keene, told me I should go into the Peace Corps because I liked to travel. I went in and told them I wanted to join, and they said they were sending me to Yemen. I said, 'Where's Yemen?' I had no idea where it was. They told me it was the hardest place in the world to live and it had the highest infant mortality rate. I was motivated by that. I had no idea what it was going to be like, but it was probably the best thing that happened to me - going to another culture, learning another language. It was really the opposite of where I was raised as a Christian compared to Muslim. I got to live on the Red Sea, I got to deliver a baby and really appreciate where I came from."

"AFTER I GOT out of the Peace Corps, one of my buddies was living in L.A., and he told me to come out and visit, so I did. I wasn't sure what I was going to do [for a career], and I met some people out there who told me to try modeling since I liked to travel. I got into that, and they sent me straight to Paris. I got to shoot with one of the best photographers in the world, Mario Testino, in Paris. After I did that, I had a free pass to go wherever I wanted to go. I made money in Madrid, Barcelona, Munich, Athens, and got to spend five or six years in Europe doing modeling and commercials."

"What I found out while I was doing that was I was supposed to be a personal trainer. That was what I really loved. It was consistent money, and I stayed healthy doing it. And it gave me a good feeling and I was motivated working with people. That's how I made my way back to northwest Ohio."