Desmond Roland: His Coach's Take

Desmond Roland has not answered his telephone or spoken with any member of the media since returning from his official visit to Arkansas last weekend. He did send a text to Scout's Greg Powers stating he was sticking with his commitment to Oklahoma State. We caught up with Lake Highlands head coach Scott Smith on Thursday and he shared some thoughts on Roland.

"He's going to be an Oklahoma State Cowboy," Smith said during our telephone interview for the "His Coach's Take" installment on Roland.

Smith and Roland visited about the trip to Arkansas (see the response below) on Monday, but the Lake Highlands head coach knew what Roland was thinking when he walked into the football team's banquet Sunday night.

"He showed up wearing an orange shirt and a black suit," said Smith. "I knew what he was saying without him having to say a word. That pretty much sealed it for me. I just smiled at him and laughed."

What follows is the "Desmond Roland: His Coach's Take" from our visit with Smith about the 6-2, 190-pound running back/wide receiver from Dallas.

What are his strengths as a football player?
Scott Smith: Versatility is probably one of his biggest ones. He's one of the most versatile athletes I've ever had the opportunity to coach. He's maybe one of the best runners in Texas as a running back, but also I think if you watch him on video and watch what he was able to do coming out of the backfield and lining up as a receiver he's got some of the best hands, not just catching the football but once he catches it yards after catch. He's a tremendous receiver and we utilized those skills quite a bit. I think versatility is his greatest strength.

What do you believe will be his biggest challenge in going from high school to playing in the Big 12?
Scott Smith: Probably the biggest challenge for him is probably the same for all those other freshmen, and it's the same every year, it's just adjusting to the speed of the game, the size of the game, the mental aspect of the game. And it is the Big 12, that wow factor is something he's going to have to adjust to. Thankfully he's played in some pretty big games down here (in Texas) and that will help, but big games in the Big 12 are a little bit different than high school big games.

Was there one game, or maybe even one play, during his career that you'll always remember?
Scott Smith: There's a funny one and there are a couple of really, really outstanding ones that we'll watch for a while. Well the fun one, I won't go into details because I'll let you ask him about it ... but it was his first play ever as a varsity athlete his freshman year. It was on a kickoff return and let's just say he struggled a little bit with his assignment (laughing). It's a great story. You'll have to ask him about that one, and he'll smile. Last year against (Dallas) Skyline it was three plays in a row toward the end of the game that put us in a position where we had a chance to finish it off. The first of the three plays he pops one for about 70 (yards) and has to cut all the way back across the field to get the last 10 or 15 yards and they tackle him. We then tempo-ed the thing and put him at quarterback in the wildcat formation, and in a matter of about 15 seconds (following the end of the 70-yard run) we snap the ball to him and pops another 10- or 15-yarder down to about the 5-yard line. We tempo-ed it again and ran the exact same play and punched it into the end zone. That series of three plays in a row in what ended up being an 85-yard drive in which he had all the yardage, it was one of those series where the average kid is tapping out after the 70-yard run. He's probably not scoring on that third play when he has to go 5 more yards, and going up against a defense like Skyline puts out on the field. That was pretty impressive. Honestly his highlight video from the last three years I could pop it in and sit there and go, ‘Wow!' on every play. We were very, very fortunate.

What are three words that describe him as a football player?
Scott Smith: Power, speed, and agility.

Why do you think he chose Oklahoma State?
Scott Smith: He chose Oklahoma State because one, he made a great connection with those coaches that recruited him and he enjoys being around them, and two, he's excited about where Oklahoma State is headed and he's excited to be a part of the recruiting class that they have coming in. When he came back two weekends ago from when they had almost the entire class there, my first question to him was, ‘Did you have fun?' He said, ‘Coach, it was a blast hanging out with those guys and getting to know them, and knowing that we're going to be together for the next four or five years.' I think once he got up there and met them all he was pretty excited. I'm really excited to see what his class is going to be able to accomplish the next four or five years at Oklahoma State.

What type of impact do you expect him to have on the OSU football program?
Scott Smith: I will be very, very surprised if it's not a big splash. He's that kind of kid. He always seems to find that next level that takes him above and beyond. I told Coach (Jason) Jones, he and I were talking about it the other day, the old cliche hangs true about Desmond – big-time players make big-time plays in big-time games. If you go back and look at his high school career that holds true. Once he adjusts to all the things he has to adjust to as a young guy going into a man's world, I don't see those things changing.

Over the course of his college career, whether it be four or five years, what do you expect him to accomplish?
Scott Smith: Me and him have talked about this. I want to see him cross the stage as a graduate with his college degree. I think that's very, very important to him and his mom and dad. On the playing field, shoot, and I'll tell him too, I expect him to be the best there is at his position, whichever position it is they end up playing him at, whether it's in the backfield or whether they move him to receiver. I expect him to be the best in the country at what he does. I would be surprised if in four years or five years his name is not at the top of the list of whatever position it is he's playing, and what's in store for him after his senior year. I think he will mature in those things that will set him apart from most everybody else.

What will you remember the most about coaching him?
Scott Smith: He's got a great smile, he's got a great personality, and he's fun to be around. That's above and beyond all his athletic ability.

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