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He will catch the football and run through your defense.

Moments later, he will intercept the football and run through your offense.

St. Mary’s Ryken senior DeMarco Rojas was a dual threat for the Knights football team in the 2012 season as a wide receiver and a defensive back.

A transfer from Northern High School, Rojas was an integral part of both units on a Ryken squad that had its best winning season in school history.

With his ability to play both offense and defense at a high level, Rojas was able to secure a spot on the Lake Erie College (Ohio) football team, signing his letter of intent Feb. 6, National Signing Day.

“I am really excited, and this is a great, great experience,” Rojas said. “I have been working hard a long time, and it’s paying off. I am just ready to start and do big things.”

An official visit to the Ohio-based campus one week before signing day cemented his decision.

“I really enjoyed myself,” Rojas said. “The coach [head coach Mark McNellie] was really terrific. I really liked them, they recruited me hard and it was just a perfect place for me. I also really love the area.”

According to Rojas, McNellie and his staff think the senior could play either wide receiver or defensive back and stated that at one time or another, the dual threat may be able to play both. So which position does Rojas prefer playing?

“I like both positions,” Rojas said, “but I’d prefer defensive back. I like playing defense more because I would rather hit than get hit.”

During his senior year at Ryken, his first and only year with the Knights after his transfer, Rojas totaled 431 yards and four touchdowns on 31 catches as a receiver and, as a cornerback, finished with three interceptions and 18 solo tackles for head coach Jerry Franks, who finished his first season at Ryken in 2012 after spending multiple seasons at Huntingtown.

“Ryken has been terrific,” Rojas said. “There are great, great academics here, and the people here are terrific. They have opened up a lot of new doors for me. But with coach Franks and football, it has been awesome. It was a great season with a great coach. ... I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for Coach.”

But it was one of Franks’ assistants, Darren DeMeio, that helped the Lake Erie connection happen for Rojas.

It was DeMeio’s recommendation to Lake Erie assistant coach James Boyeas that put the senior on the Lake Erie radar.

DeMeio and Boyeas were college roommates at Heidelberg University (Ohio), where each coach played football.

“He is just the total package,” DeMeio said of Rojas. “I know he is going to work hard, and he is very talented. I would recommend him highly to anybody.”

That package will only need to get better when Rojas steps onto the NCAA Division II fields and settles himself into collegiate-level football.

“Speed,” Rojas said of what will be the toughest transition. “I have to get my speed up, my agility up and run better routes. Everyone at the next level will not be as slow as in high school. They hit harder and are more physical, so I need to improve my speed.”

And although the senior is a dual threat on the field, he wants to be a triple threat when it comes to college as a whole.

“I want to continue to excel academically,” Rojas said. “If you fail in the classroom, you fail in the athletic department, as well. If you’re not eligible, you’re not going to play. If I hit the books hard, then I can hit the field harder.”

jmccray@somdnews.com