Inside the Class of '08: Ryan Roberson

The tenth in a daily series of interviews and photo essays on members of the Longhorn Class of '08: Linebacker/fullback Ryan Roberson.

Ryan Roberson
Linebacker/Running back
Brenham
5-10/210/4.46
National Rank at SLB: 11
Overall State Rank: 28
Star Rating: ****

An Inside Texas conversation with Brenham head coach Glen West on Ryan Roberson:

Inside Texas: What is it that made Ryan such a highly sought-after prospect?

Glen West: …He is an amazing young man. I think every coach on this staff would adopt him and claim him as their own. He's something special and my prediction would be that Ryan will be speaking to young people many years past his football playing career. He is a testament to hard work, to coming up tough, coming up the hard way… Also, he's very unselfish. Ryan played tailback for us, he played fullback for us, he played linebacker for us. Ryan didn't care. Just, ‘Whatever I can do t help.' Ryan's a pleaser. He wants to please. Wherever you need him and he can contribute, that's what he wants to do.

IT: What did you see in him at each of those positions?

West: He has a desire to be successful and he doesn't get tired very often. He has good speed – I wouldn't call him a sprinter, but he has excellent speed in the 40-yard dash. I think Texas timed him when he went to their camp at 4.46, so he is very fast for a big kid. Obviously he is big. He's 230 pounds so he's a very large young man, he's a punishing runner. He's not a juker. That's not what he is. He runs over you, that's his style. He's a downhill runner. Could be an excellent fullback as well. Good blocker, great hands. For us one year he actually played slot receiver because he catches the ball so well. Intelligent route runner. Defensively has a nose for the football. Can cover. With his speed is a good cover man. At times in 7-on-7 in the summer we would play him at safety and talked about that being a place he could play. Kind of odd seeing a 230-pound safety so we didn't do that but he could have because he covered very well and has great hands. He could play middle linebacker to outside linebacker really easily at the next level and cover well. So I think the thing right now with Ryan and The University of Texas is finding where they want to play him because he's extremely versatile. And the other part of Ryan that is so different than a lot kids is, Ryan absolutely does not care. He wants to get on the field. He just wants them to tell him, ‘This is where we need you.' He wants to know where he's needed.

IT: He looks like he's pretty well put together…

West: Oh, very well put together. He's a 330-pound bencher, thick-legged. We started out the season with him at fullback and our tailback was injured at the beginning of the year and after out first ballgame we realized we had to use him at tailback because he was a true difference maker in the first game. He was a guy they couldn't tackle and we got him the ball like six times and we realized we can't survive if he's only going to get the ball six times. So we moved him to tailback. He took every snap at tailback and every snap at linebacker and it's a tough load. The kid never complained and was ready to go at all times.

IT: To what do you attribute his ability to shoulder that load?

West: I think his work ethic and his work ethic happened because his desire. He wanted with all his heart to play college football and I remember the first offer he got was from Texas A&M and he got it really early. They had a junior day before the signing day and it was tough for him not to commit right then and the reason why it was so tough was because he wants to play college football with all his heart and when somebody offers him a scholarship, he was like, ‘Coach, I gotta do this, this is what I want to do,' and I had to explain to him, ‘Take your time, there is a process here, look a little more. A&M may be where you need to go but please stop and look to see where the best place is for you.' He just wants to play so badly.

IT: What did he tell you made the difference when he got the early offer from Texas?

West: There's two things. No. 1, his mother lives in Austin and so that was obviously a big thing to be close to her. Another thing was in the way the Texas coaches approached him and dealt with him. He just felt like there was something special that was about to happen in Austin and he wanted to be a part of that.

IT: How did Texas approach his recruitment that was different from other people?

West: Having won a national championship, you know that you can do that. I think one of things the coaches said was, ‘Everybody is going after one but we've actually won one and we know how to do it,' and everybody wants to be a part of something like that. Me being a high school coach looking at the next level, there is something to be said for THE University of a state. There just is. THE University of Texas. THE University of Alabama. There's just something to be said about that. Their resources are unlimited. They are THE University of Texas. I know there are some other great universities (in this state) and we love all of them, but they are THE University of Texas and I think that has something to do with it. When Texas is really good, the other schools aren't. When the other schools in the state are good is when Texas is on the down.

IT: Did the Texas coaches have something that they really liked about Ryan?

West: … My understanding was when they watched film of him that the offensive staff and the defensive staff both said, ‘We will offer him a scholarship.' The defensive staff said, ‘We will offer him as a linebacker' and the offensive staff said, ‘We will offer him as a back.' And that's what they've told us all along. From the get-go, they've said, ‘We don't know where he'll play at and we're not saying that in a negative way we just think he's a kid who can do several things.'

IT: Was he a middle linebacker for you guys or did he play both middle and outside?

West: Middle and outside. He was more of an outside linebacker when we were in a 4-3 scheme because he covered very well and had great feet but he also played inside when we went with a two-linebacker defense. We were very versatile and he made us very versatile because we could get in a three-linebacker defense and he'd be involved in the cover scheme and do it very well. We never worried about him covering even after carrying the ball 25 times on offense… He's not going to have a lot of stars because he didn't have great stats because he went both ways, but at the same time he was invaluable to our football team and certainly worthy of scholarship offers all over the state and nation. The other day when the Texas coaches were talking to him, they were saying, ‘You're in a good place because there's not a whole lot expected of you as far as publicity,' but I think he'll be a name we'll all know about because of his work ethic and he's one of those kinds of kids you need on your football team. He's a solid player.

IT: Last year, someone described him as a bowling ball-like runner and talked about his great leverage…

West: I think he's a downhill runner. Once he gets his legs churning, he's tough to bring down. He punishes you. He doesn't mind running over you. In fact, he's gong to try to do that. He doesn't shy away from contact, that's for sure. There was a situation this year when we played Nederland in the first game of the year at Reliant Stadium and we came back from behind and Ryan made a run in the fourth quarter where they hit him about the six and literally there were 11 people around him and they got him down on the two. He just moved the whole pile forward. The next play we gave it to him again and he scored. We were down by one point so we kicked the extra point to go to overtime and we missed the extra point and lost by one and I really felt like that was my fault. I felt in my heart we should have gone for two because I didn't think they could tackle Ryan and when the game was over I remember going to Ryan and saying, ‘Son, I made a mistake. We should have gone for two and given you the ball.' He didn't say anything, just smiled. And I said, ‘Ryan, they wouldn't have tackled you, would they?' And he said, ‘No way.' That sums up Ryan. With great hands, too. We threw him the ball a lot and he never missed a pass. He's got big hands and soft hands.

IT: What kind of personality does he have off the field?

West: Fun loving. Big smile on his face. He has a million dollar smile…

IT: I saw that earlier…

West: … Always has that smile. You never see anything but that smile. He's the same every single day. He's a pleaser. He's happy. Yet he knows he's got a big challenge in front of him. He's going into college and that's a different thing. He's the first in his family to do that and I think he's excited about that challenge. A very determined individual. Fun. Quiet confidence. He's not loud at all. Extremely respectful. Just a wonderful kid.

IT: Was he a leader on your team?

West: He was a captain.

IT: Voted on by the players?

West: Voted on by the players. But Ryan wasn't a vocal leader. He led by example. He would encourage, but I didn't see him get on people often. That wasn't his style. He wasn't a barker. But he was one that they needed Ryan and Ryan was coming with that big smile and he was definitely a leader.

IT: What's Ryan doing in the off-season to get prepared for Texas?

West: Ryan's doing two things. Number one, he's in track and I think they're extremely happy about that. He's not going to win state but he's good at track; he's doing it more than anything for his college. He wants to come in in great shape and he knows running is a great thing. We are extremely blessed at Brenham because we have Ray Davidson on our track staff as a volunteer and Ray coached 14 years as the head track coach at Rice and has had several Olympians and he lives in Brenham and he loves track and loves running. I think Ryan is in track because Ray and Ray works with him and he's always going to work with him on his speed. I think Ryan understands, like all athletes do right now, that speed is the big thing as far as promoting you in football. So he's doing that. The other thing Ryan is doing is he's involved in our off-season program just as our juniors and sophomores and freshmen are. He's doing that simply because he wants to make sure he's in the best shape he can possibly be in. I think coach Brown told him the No. 1 thing he needs to do coming into Texas is to make sure he's in terrific shape.

IT: What did he mean to your football program?

West: No. 1 is stability. He made us stable and I'm not sure that we know right now what all he meant to us. There will be a void left. Dependable. Was never going to get in trouble. Was never going to be around trouble… He's going to get more out of his ability than most because he will finish with a degree and he will finish with accomplishment.

IT: What does Ryan need to improve on to be successful at the college level?

West: I think one of the things that hurts you sometimes when you play both ways, he's probably a little rough in all areas. He's a tremendous athlete; I would not say he's an accomplished running back, I would not say he's an accomplished fullback, I would not say he's an accomplished linebacker. I'd say he's a very good athlete who can do a lot of things. The thing he'll do at the next level and this is what he wants to do, is get comfortable and be in a position and stay and let someone coach him and be real good about it.

Also see: Brenham LB/FB chooses Horns

Ryan Roberson Photo Gallery

Ryan Roberson: Talks Official

UT Signing Day Bio: All-state and two-time 18-4A all-district selection ... versatile three-year letterman and starter who played both running back and linebacker ... ranked as the nation's second-best fullback by Rivals ... tabbed one of the state's Top 10 linebackers by Dave Campbell's Texas Football ... helped Brenham post a 33-6 record (19-0 district) and win three consecutive district championships during his three seasons ... tallied 1,154 rushing yards, 37 receiving yards and 21 TDs in his final two years as a prepster ... tabbed third-team 4A all-state at running back by the Texas Sports Writers Association as a senior ... also a unanimous first-team all-district selection at running back ... rushed 187 times for 888 yards (4.7 ypc) and 18 TDs ... garnered second-team all-district honors as a junior ... rushed for 266 yards and three TDs on 46 carries (5.8 ypc) and pulled in four receptions for 37 yards (9.3 ypc) ... also made 81 tackles as a starter at linebacker ... earned his first career start as a sophomore in the state championship game against La Marque ... also played basketball and was a member of the 4x100 and 4x200-meter relays as a prepster ... Born 11/15/89 in Brenham, Texas ... lived in Washington, Texas for most of elementary school and junior high, but returned to Brenham for high school ... full name is Ryan Charles Roberson ... cousin, Limas Sweed, played wide receiver at Texas (2004-07) ... prep honor roll student who garnered academic all-district honors ... active participant in the 4-H club ... enjoys fishing and playing video games.

LAST WEEK

Monday: Emmanuel Acho
Tuesday: Brock Fitzhenry
Wednesday: D.J. Grant
Thursday: Mark Buchanan
Friday: Antoine Hicks

THIS WEEK

Monday: DeSean Hales
Tuesday: Jarvis Humphrey
Wednesday: Justin Tucker
Thursday: Luke Poehlmann

Up next: D.J. Monroe

All photos: Will Gallagher/Inside Texas

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