Illinois wide receivers coach Andrew Hayes-Stoker already is envisioning how he can use Reggie Roberson in the Illini offense. That’s why he brought film of the season finale against Northwestern -- in which Illinois passed for 377 yards -- to his Monday in-home visit with the Mesquite (Texas) Horn receiver.
“We watched film, and he showed me where they can use my on the field in the slot mostly and then go to outside for a mismatch,” Roberson said. “We also talked about the school and just really how can I can be used and how I can make an impact as a freshman. They told me that I’d play right away.”
Hayes-Stoker also spent more time with Roberson’s parents, who traveled to Champaign for an official visit with their son in early October.
“Him and my mom and my dad probably talked more than I did,” Roberson said. “They always talk, and they’re always communicating with each other. I talk to Coach Stoker a lot too. It’s a really good relationship.”
Hayes-Stoker has made Roberson -- who recently decommitted from Kansas -- a priority since he joined Smith’s staff last spring. But other schools are ramping up their efforts following Roberson’s big senior season. He had 60 receptions for 1,060 yards and 11 touchdowns and totaled 800 kick/punt return yards with two return touchdowns.
ECU and Indiana long have recruited Roberson, but Oklahoma, Mississippi State and Kentucky have turned up the interest lately.
“Those are the ones that are hitting me real hard right now,” Roberson said. “I’m getting a lot more interest now.”
But those new suitors have a lot of ground to make up.
“It really doesn’t impact me a lot because they weren’t there at the beginning,” Roberson said. “I feel like when that happens, they really didn’t believe in my talent at the beginning. I really like the schools that have offered me since I first started getting offers. It doesn’t really make a big difference (in my recruitment), but I’ll still hear them because I respect the coaches.”
Roberson plans to take an official visit to ECU soon and will visit Oklahoma this weekend.
“I’m just going there to take a visit right now just to see what they have to offer, just to see how they play receivers and just compare it to Illinois to see if they stack up to them,” Roberson said. “But I doubt that.”
So if he’s comparing schools to Illinois, is it fair to say Illinois is the team to beat?
“Yeah, I would say that,” Roberson said.
Roberson undoubtedly has developed a deep relationship with the Illinois staff, but he’s also developed a deep relationship with Illinois commit and Chicago Brother Rice receiver Ricky Smalling, who Roberson met during his official visit.
Roberson will take a return unofficial visit to Illinois when Smalling takes his official visit in the coming weeks. Smalling also is visiting Roberson in Texas.
“We talk a lot, me and Ricky,” Roberson said. “We have a really good bond. He’s flying down (to Texas) during Christmas break and he’s going to stay with me. If we play together, it’s going to be real special because he’s going to push me and I’m going to push him. We’ll always be brothers off the field, but on the field, we’re going to push each other.”
Two months from Signing Day, Roberson said he still doesn’t have an exact decision date.
“I really don’t have a timeline,” Roberson said. “When I’m ready and I feel ready, that’s when it’s going to happen.”