Roberts Receiving OU Interest

Sooners Illustrated brings you an interview with Donovan Roberts, 2012 running back out of Norman High School in Norman (OK). Roberts had a breakout junior season this year and is getting looks from all the instate Oklahoma schools along with schools across the country. Inside Roberts talked about his season and the recruiting side of things.

In recent years Oklahoma's recruitment of running backs has lead them out of state where they have found success landing some of the best talent in the country. Guys like Demarco Murray from Nevada, Roy Finch from Florida, Brennan Clay from California. Even guys like Jermie Calhoun and Jonathan Miller who came from Texas.

The only running back on the roster with a scholarship from the state of Oklahoma is Mossis Madu, a senior out of Norman High School. In 2012, one of Oklahoma's top targets at the position may come from the same school as Madu.

When Roberts was a freshman at Norman High he saw what Madu had done in his time as a Tiger and Roberts wanted to try and follow in his footsteps along with making his own name.

"Well coming from Norman High as soon as I hit my freshman year I was automatically in Mossis's shadow. They held all the records and I am just sitting here as a freshman like ‘what am I supposed to do'. They had a big role to play in it and every game I was just trying to make a name for myself and just do good."

"And just step into the spots where they left because there hasn't been very much running back talent since I think Mossis left. And just trying to prove every game and try to maintain things like they did."

This year the Norman Tigers looked to build off their 4-7 season they had last year and they did so going 8-3 while making it to the first round of the 6A Oklahoma state playoffs. It all ended too quickly according to Roberts as Norman lost to Owasso in a five overtime thriller 51-44.

"The season ended up pretty good but not exactly where we wanted it to end because we felt we still had some more games left in us," Roberts stated. "It was a big turning point for us. The seniors that we had helped bring this program around where it started with a new coach and everything like that. I felt we did really well and I improved this season quite a bit."

As a sophomore Roberts finished with 198-carries for 1,001-yards and 4-touchdowns, which some would say is a breakout year. Instead it is his junior year that people are saying is his breakout year finishing with 305-carries for 1947-yards (6.38 ypc) and 32-touchdowns.

"I felt like, you know a lot of people say it was a breakout year. And I kind of feel the same to but one of the things was I was just always striving to improve on anything I could do to make myself better and make my teammates around me better. And that's what I am going to try and do in the off-season."

Robert's had this to say when asked what his best assets are that he brings to the table as a running back. His description of himself sounds an awful lot like a big time running back that used to play for the Sooners from Palestine (TX).

"The combination of size and speed because a lot of running backs when they are running they will try to evade a lot (of contact) and try to hop out of bounds. I feel like, every single play if I have an opportunity to hit you then about the third or fourth time you (the defender) are going to ease back and that gives me the opportunity where I will be able to cut it up field."

After putting together two really strong years running the football schools have taken notice of Robert's abilities like Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Kansas, Nebraska, Arizona and Tulsa to name a few. Oklahoma and Oklahoma State have the luxury of being close by with Oklahoma only a couple of blocks away from Norman HS.

"I went to OU's practice a couple of Friday's ago," Roberts explained. "And I like coach Gundy and I talked to him and stuff and the offensive coordinator, coach Wilson. And I talk to coach G (Robert Gillespie) from Oklahoma State. He's not the head coach just the running backs coach he just says call him coach G for short, and a couple other colleges and stuff."

When it comes to Oklahoma's running backs coach Cale Gundy, it's his honesty that has stood out to Roberts.

"He is real straight forward," Roberts said. "He is probably one of the most honest coaches that I've ever met.

When I came to watch them during the spring he told me straight up what the plus and negatives were about everybody on the field that he coached, like Mossis, Demarco and everything. He is the most honest person, even if it's a positive or a negative he is going to tell you straight up."

This past weekend Roberts was in attendance for ‘Bedlam' where the Sooners defeated the Cowboys in a thriller 47-41.

"It was intense," Roberts said. "I was just sitting in the middle of everyone's chants and I wanted OSU and OU to do very good. It was an intense game and it was back and forth. I don't know if OU should have won or if it should have been closer but I liked the outcome and it was fun to watch."

With all the talk about Oklahoma and Oklahoma State it sounds as if the two schools could be the major players in Robert's recruitment but he says it's just easier with their locations for him to get out and see them more than some of the other schools.

"I wouldn't say that necessarily," Roberts said about OU and OSU being his top two at the moment. "But they are the ones locally where I can keep in touch with by traveling and stuff. Overall, most of the looks I am getting it's all even there's no more interests than any other schools."

Location could play a factor in Robert's decision when the time comes but for now his focus is just on getting better.

"Possibly," Roberts said when asked about location playing a factor in his decision. "But I don't know it's still early. I am just going to do everything that I can to get bigger and faster."

Midlands Recruiting Manager Greg Powers contributed to this report.

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