If you’re not convinced that Demetris Robertson is one of the most dynamic football players you’re going to see during this recruiting cycle, just keep watching.
He’ll convince you.
He may not convince you until you see him run a jet sweep or weave through traffic with a tunnel screen, or as he breaks into that unusually long, athletic stride.
He may not convince you until you see the physicality that he exudes on the defensive side of the football where he’ll come up from his safety position and strike you with authority.
If you’re not sure after all of that, listen and watch him in an interview. You’ll understand the self-assuredness with which the 6-foot-1, 180-pounder carries himself.
He’s really good and he knows it. It’s in his voice, it’s in his body language, and it’s certainly in the film clips that add layer upon layer to one’s belief in Robertson’s football prowess.
Robertson, of course, is the beautiful, shiny stone that Notre Dame, Alabama, Georgia and Stanford are romancing down the final stretch of the 2016 recruiting cycle.
The Savannah (Ga.) Christian Prep standout took a visit from Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly with assistants Mike Sanford, Scott Booker and Autry Denson on Monday, Jan. 18 with the Irish smack dab in the thick of things with the former/long-time Alabama verbal commitment.
Georgia Tech, Ohio State, Florida and Cal ultimately made Robertson’s top eight after schools like Texas A&M, Auburn, Florida State and USC were among his favorites prior to the start of his senior season. But now it’s down to three teams -- four max -- with Alabama, Notre Dame and Georgia the likely finalists.
With the Irish also chasing Fresno linebacker Caleb Kelly on the ’16 recruiting season’s final lap, Notre Dame has a chance to close on a real crescendo.
Here’s what the Irish would have in their possession if Robertson ultimately chooses the Irish.
When you watch Robertson run routes at the various regional/national camps, you see a young man who moves and carries himself like an NFL receiver. There’s a physical maturity to the way he moves around a football field that screams professional despite his young age.
As a route runner, Robertson is as good as you’re going to see in terms of gaining separation from a pass defender. There is a suddenness and darting ability to his pass routes that make it virtually impossible against his current competition to both anticipate and react effectively to his razor-sharp cuts.
While Robertson could add some overall strength to a frame that is still a bit willowy, he also has a wiry strength to him and a taut physique that allows him to seamlessly jab and cut defensive backs off his stride. The crispness of most of his routes make it virtually impossible for a player on the high school level to defend, and much of that will carry over into college.
Other physical attributes that stand out include arm length and a desire to catch the football with both hands. He’s a loose-limbed athlete, which allows him to win battles with defensive backs even when he hasn’t created clear separation.
There’s a physical toughness to his game, which shines on the defensive side of the football where he likes to come up from a safety position and thump people. Make no mistake, he’s a five-star safety prospect as well for all the same reasons he’s an outstanding wideout prospect. But there’s a special nature to his game on the offensive side of the football that would be too difficult to pass up.
He’s not afraid to slam into the line of scrimmage on jet sweeps, which shows his background as a running back. He shows surprising leg drive for a guy that is built and moves like a wide receiver.
Robertson also showed his aggressive, decisive nature on kick returns in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl when he sliced through the coverage for about 60 yards as he used that stride – which looks like that of a 6-foot-3 athlete – to burst through the forest of bodies.
There is one aspect of his game in particular that needs fine-tuning, and even that seems to be carefully calculated. He can be a very upright runner, which makes him an easier target on kick returns and tunnel screens. But one also suspects that Robertson doesn’t make himself available for an easy shot when he’s in traffic. In other words, he knows when he can run a bit more upright, and then lowers the pads when the situation dictates.
One might perceive Robertson to be on the extremely confident/cocky side, which is perfectly fine as long as that doesn’t negatively impact his work ethic and desire to improve and maximize his immense skill set. The kid is so gifted in a game that requires great confidence that it’s difficult for him not to come off as quite aware of his talents.
When it comes to football skills, nothing is ever etched in stone. There are too many variables beyond the physical attributes necessary to succeed and stay on top -- including the toll the physical nature of the game can take on a player -- to assume football greatness for any player. Notre Dame’s Jaylon Smith learned that the hard way in the Fiesta Bowl.
But if you want to see what an NFL wide receiver looks like before he’s even stepped on the college fields, watch Demetris Robertson, particularly in one-on-one pass drills. That’s a young man preparing for the next level, which will inevitably lead to the grandest stage of all on Sundays.
There is little doubt that beginning next fall, Robertson will be a major contributor at Notre Dame, Alabama or Georgia.