2009 Spartan Nation Football Profile: OT Rocco “Rock” Cironi #57

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2009 Spartan Nation Football Profile: OT Rocco “Rock” Cironi #57

Height: 6’6”

Weight:Â 307

2009 Eligibility:Â Senior

EXP:Â 2 Letters

Status:Â Starting Tackle


Strengths: Cironi has a good brain and uses it on the football field. There is no compliment you can give an offensive lineman that will mean more than that. He is very good in space and although he won’t win any 40-yard dashes, he has good footwork and what is called game speed. He also does well with his hands. 


Here is a good example of what made Cironi shine in 2008, his first as a starter. When the Spartans were at Cal and facing a 3rd and 30, the Spartans call a conservative screen pass so as to not take any risk on the road. It is a good strategy. Cironi sprinted out to his assignment, using that game speed and good technique, and pancaked his man in space and got up and was down the field.


Weakness: With some players, maybe they lack the mental capacity to understand schemes or ideas in football and unlike a computer you can’t fix that by adding memory. With Cironi, he can be his own worst nightmare. He has to remember that with 95% of the people he goes against being smaller than him that he has to keep his hips low. When he gets beat and it isn’t often, it is when a smaller DE, or in some cases not smaller but better technique DE, keeps his pad level low and Cironi doesn’t stay agile with his hips to get low. Cironi is a sound and solid football player. 


That one area is what will keep him from being a very good football player and a great one. That only comes when a person spends the extra time doing drills in the cage and simply one on one technique drills. It isn’t a normal position when you are a big guy to bend those hips and use your leverage, so you simply have to train your body to do it and it only comes with time. 


In the Capital One Bowl, the Spartans had a 1st and 10 at the Georgia 41. Dobbs bull-rushed Cironi, and Rocco engaged him for less than two seconds. The play cost MSU 10 yards and more importantly, the Spartans came away with no points when Swenson missed a 53-yard field goal.


Here is another example from that same game. Cousins was in the shotgun and Rock got bull-rushed again, almost instantaneously the defender was a diversion for Cousins. Had Cironi had lower hip placement and engaged him it would have been a better play. In the end, Cousins was able to complete it, but had it not developed so fast, Cironi’s man would have hurt the Spartans again.


Final Analysis: Cironi had off-season shoulder surgery to clean up the shoulder and missed the spring. He has been working very hard, something Coach Roushar addressed with me.  Cironi started getting NFL attention last season (where he projects more as a RT) and that shouldn’t change this year. As the Spartan offense slightly evolves, look for Roushar to find even more ways to utilize the many strengths of Cironi to help this team. There are no recurring shoulder issues and the only question with Cironi is his strength. Can he spend the time getting the shoulder strength back in the weight room? Sure. Will he? Bank on it. Cironi will utilize his talents and as a sure anchor at tackle have his best season.


Cironi is a student of the game. He loves football and as you will see with these profiles there are some guys that need to dial back their emotion and channel it. Cironi is the opposite. He is an emotional player, but he needs to at times be more open with it. His teammates look to him as a leader and where as he focuses it, they need to see more fire in his belly verbally.


Most guys who sit out the spring sulk or pout, but that wasn’t Cironi's way of dealing with sitting out. He was in every drill they would let him be in and had to, on multiple occasions, be told to step back. That impressed a lot of people. Most of all with the Spartans being so young at OT he coached as much as he could and was a big reason that J’Michael Deane and others did well. In fact, Deane told me, “I can’t thank Rock enough, he really was a big help. Technique is so important, but he has that game experience and he was where I am last year and he really helped me a lot.”


He may have been a big help to his younger teammates this spring, but come fall he will be a big help to the entire team. 2009 should be a good year as Rock shows off his versatility and grows more into his role as an anchor.