Isaiah Robertson has learned a thing or two about leadership in a year’s time.
Last season, Robertson landed the Neuqua Valley High School captaincy as a junior. He went on to post a prolific season statistically while figuring out how to be a focal point of the program not just on the field but in the locker room.
Neuqua Valley went 7-4 and made the Illinois state playoffs for the sixth straight season but fell short of a state title. Robertson, however, learned plenty along the way.
“I’m not really a yelling or get-in-your-face type of dude,” Robertson said. “But sometimes you have to be a vocal leader. I just lead by example, some are vocal. You have to demand things from guys but you have to show that at the same time it’s what you’re doing.”
Robertson certainly showed his teammates how to perform Friday nights.
The four-star athlete from Naperville, Ill., racked up 1,354 total yards between time at wide receiver and on punt returns. He had 50 receptions for 803 yards and nine touchdowns in 11 games played.
Not only that, Robertson added 81 tackles, four interceptions and a forced fumble as a safety. He hopes to see all those numbers increase during his senior season, which begins Friday.
“I just continued to work hard,” said Robertson, who’s been committed to Notre Dame since April. “I thought about my work ethic last year and tried to double it this year. I tried to do more. I feel really good about the season. I can’t wait.”
Safety is the position that took up most of his attention this offseason.
Notre Dame likes the 6-foot-3, 190-pound prospect on defense, at least to start. So, Robertson went to work on some of the finer points in terms of technique with an eye toward the future.
“I feel smoother on that side of the ball and more comfortable,” Robertson said. “I feel faster on that side of the ball. It’s something I needed to work on and get comfortable with and I feel like I really have.”
Opponents might want to take note. Robertson was no slouch on defense last season. But it’s not necessarily the statistics that will reveal to Robertson whether he’s done enough in his final high school season.
“We just want to win,” Robertson said. “We’ve been through enough experiences, so we know how to win. We know how to do it. It’s just to the point of making it a reality. We just need to win this year. That’s the mindset that we have.”
Robertson also plans to mix in some return trips to Notre Dame along the way. He’s looking hard at the Michigan State and Stanford games. He’s likely to make the drive to South Bend on other occasions too.
What he wants to do is test his recruiting ability in person. His target list includes safety Amari Carter, five-star offensive lineman Trey Smith and four-star junior cornerback Houston Griffith.
“I’m getting on Amari Carter and Trey Smith,” Robertson said. “Some of the other ones we’ve already gotten committed to Notre Dame. Houston, of course. Those are the main guys I’m trying to get on our side.”