The Mackey Award, named after NFL Hall of Famer John Mackey, has been annually given to the nation's top tight end since the year 2000. In 2016, the Toledo Rockets will have a player to watch at the tight end position in senior, Michael Roberts. The Cleveland native caught a career-high 21 passes for 234 yards and four touchdowns in 2015 with several clutch receptions coming in big moments such as the upset win at Arkansas.
This season, Roberts will be a leader both on and off of the field and should be a major target for quarterback, Logan Woodside. First-year offensive coordinator, Brian Wright, says Roberts will play a large role in his offense this fall.
"I think he just brings so much to the table," Wright told us, "His skill set is really diverse, he can run and has great size. Michael is also a good pass catcher and you can line him up in a lot of different spots. He's valuable in the redzone and really in any situation. I'm certainly excited to have him," Wright added.
As for the award, Roberts says it's a great honor and something he didn't really see coming.
"Honestly, up until a couple days ago, I didn't really think about it, "Roberts would tell us, "It's a great honor to be named to a watchlist with so much talent on it."
Other than the player at an individual perspective, Coach Wright says Roberts' honor really speaks to the high success of the Toledo program.
"I think the watch list just recognizes the player and people in this program," Wright continued, "This is a program that has competed on a high level for a long time, guys like Michael are the reason for that. Toledo gets these guys and develops them while they're here, these watch lists are proof of that."
Roberts, who should be leaned on this fall after the graduation of Alonzo Russell, who is now working on making a career in the National Football League. At tight end, the Rockets would also lose Alex Zmolik to graduation, allowing even further playing time for the dynamic pass catcher.
"Last year, I really became a third down threat, earning names such as 'First Down Guru' and 'The M80 Show' in the locker-room, but my role has changed now. I am now an every down player and a huge part of our redzone offense," Roberts told us.
The six-foot-four, 265-pounder will look to fulfill several goals in his senior season, including the elusive Mid-American Conference Championship that has escaped the Glass City.
"First, my number one goal is to graduate then to leave my college career in the best shape while playing some of the best football of my life," Roberts stated on his goals. "And the overall goal is to bring a MAC Championship to the city of Toledo, a city that has done nothing but support us as a team, even through tough times."
While Mid-American Conference play doesn't begin for weeks into the season, the Rockets' journey to Ford Field will begin on Friday, September 2nd at Arkansas State. Toledo Scout is your leader for Rockets' team and recruiting information and content.