Roberts Trips to Champaign

Rice Lake, WI is a long way from Champaign, IL, but that didn't slow Illinois linebacker commit Austin Roberts from seeing his future school in action for their opening game against SIU.

Illinois landed the commitment of Rice Lake, WI linebacker Austin Roberts after he earned an offer at an Illinois camp this summer. He trekked down to Champaign for the Southern Illinois game and kept an eye specifically on the linebackers.

"It's going to be fun to watch," he said of the linebacker corps. "I know that we're going to have Jon Brown and Mason (Monheim) out there as well as a few other guys."

Jonathan Brown, a senior, will move on after this season, leaving an opening for a starting position. Roberts is ready to come in and compete for that spot.

"I'm definitely looking to fight for a starting position next year," he said. "If things don't work out and I have to redshirt that's fine, but I'm definitely looking to play."

The opportunity for early playing time and being an "Immediate Impact Illini" did factor into Roberts' choice to come to Illinois.

"That was a big part of it," he said, "but it wasn't everything though. I was interested in the early playing time."

Academics at Illinois played an equally important role in drawing Roberts to Illinois. With several Ivy League schools also on his offer list, Roberts was attracted by the balance of both academics and athletics at Illinois. The future pre-med major spoke highly of the academic support offered at Illinois.

"They were right up there with all the other ivy league schools," Roberts said. "I think they're up in the top 30 in the world and the 8th public school in the nation. The academic counselors sold me because they push everyone to be as good as they can be in the classroom."

Roberts is challenging himself academically and athletically now in high school, and he feels like that will prepare him well for the rigors of both a tough college academic and athletic schedule.

"I talked to Mason (Monheim) when I visited and he's doing pre-dental," he said. "It's a lot of the same stuff for undergrad. Right now I'm in a bunch of AP classes and I have a bunch of stuff going on after school on top of sports, and I've been able to handle it well. So I definitely think that will carry over to college."

While he's still enjoying his senior season and senior year, Roberts is ready to get to Illinois and get to work. One of the things that will make it easier for him is the support he gets from his family.

"I'm excited, I can't wait," he said. "I'm ready to move up and take the next step. I got a lot of good support back home and a lot of family too."

He continued: "My family is really close. A lot of us moved from New Jersey, so it was nice. They'll definitely be at every game they can be. Especially Maryland, Rutgers, and Penn State since that's around where I'm from."

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