Alexandria’s Jaran Roste was confident two years ago that the decision to transfer from the University of Minnesota to Bethel to play football was good for him on and off the field.
Now after a couple seasons in the Royals’ program, nothing has changed. Roste enjoyed watching his former Gophers teammates have one of the best seasons in program history last fall. He said he still communicates with Minnesota starting quarterback Tanner Morgan on a weekly basis and loved seeing Morgan have so much success in 2019. Roste has seen similar success at Bethel after leading the program to a 19-4 record through two years.
“It’s been nothing short of amazing in terms of on the field and off the field,” Roste said. “The relationship I have with the coaching staff and players is something I’ve never really experienced before, but also with professors and different kids in the school. It’s a different feeling being there, and I’m glad I made the move.”
Roste is back in Alexandria doing online classes through Bethel due to the COVID-19 pandemic keeping students out of classrooms. He said he will likely spend the summer here working out and taking additional online classes toward his business and political science, and grades 5-12 social studies education majors.
Coaching opportunity in his hometown
While in Alexandria, Roste will also be one of two primary coaches for two, two-day football passing camps at the Northstar Sports Complex this summer. A high school camp will run July 8-9, and a middle-school camp is set for July 22-23.
Brandon Strouth, a 2002 graduate of Jefferson High School in Alexandria, will also coach the camps. Strouth is a former running back/receiver at the University of North Dakota and a current Doctor of Physical Therapy at Heartland Orthopedics. He will instruct campers on route running and receiving, as well as teaching them proper body maintenance that can help keep athletes healthy during the seasons.
Roste is not that far removed from his own playing days in Alexandria where he helped lead the Cardinals to a state tournament in 2016. This is his first chance to be one of the main coaches at a camp like this, and he is eager to work with some younger players.
“I just remember when I was in middle school and my first couple years of high school really wanting to learn more about the quarterback position and football in general,” Roste said. “Being able to provide an opportunity for kids to learn more and to grow their game in the offseason is something I thought would be really cool. I think it’s going to be a really fun opportunity.”
Roste will work with quarterbacks from all over who attend the camp and said he wants to develop their playing ability and their love of the game. Footwork, throwing mechanics and reading defenses are all things he will work on with campers.
“My biggest message to kids in this camp will be, ‘Understand yourself and the style of football you want to play. Then focus on that,’” Roste said. “If you’re going to be a pocket passer, it’s OK to sit back and try to extend plays in the pocket without taking off. If you’re a dual-threat guy and the pocket collapses and you can take off and get 10,15 yards, do that. My biggest message is to understand yourself, and knowing that will help you on the field.”
Roste certainly fits into that dual-threat quarterback category. He led Bethel to an 11-2 season as a freshman in 2018 when he carried the ball 156 times for 1,023 yards and 20 touchdowns.
Establishing a dominant ground game is a formula used by many Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference teams at the Division III level, and Roste did not need to throw the ball that much two years ago. He finished completing 58% of his passes (138-of-238) for 11 touchdowns and eight interceptions.
“If you ask a lot of MIAC teams, you got to stop the run game and make them throw the ball,” Roste said. “I kind of took that to heart and trained in the offseason on my throwing ability.”
The numbers followed. Roste helped the Royals to an 8-2 record this past fall by completing 69% of his passes (156-of-226) for 2,014 yards, 15 touchdowns and three interceptions. He also ran the ball for 535 yards and seven touchdowns on 104 carries.
“I think in terms of accuracy and being comfortable in the pocket, that really went up,” Roste said. “I think I was only sacked once last year. That’s a testament to first the offensive line, but then also the ability to have that mental timer in your head. In 2, 2.5 seconds that ball has to be gone or I need to take off. Some of those things kind of developed from year one to year two.”
Roste started at quarterback for Alexandria from his sophomore through senior year. He said he felt so comfortable as a senior for the Cardinals that it was almost like playing a video game where he could just sit back and throw the ball around to a host of talented athletes with him.
“I’m starting to get to a similar spot at Bethel, but there’s always room for improvement,” Roste said. “This next year, we will return a lot of guys. That’s always a good thing, but at the end of the day, you have to compete and win games. This year, our goals are what they have been since I’ve been here. Compete for a MIAC championship, compete for a playoff spot and compete for a national championship. We know we can be successful. It’s just a matter of going out and playing the way we know we can play.”