A Talk With Henry Roberts

While his parents were talking with Washington Head Coach Steve Sarkisian, Henry Roberts took a couple steps back. It was a chance to have his own conversation with someone that had just made a dream come true. For the 6-foot-5.75, 256-pound sophomore tackle from Bellevue, the moment was 'surreal'. The next day, it was 'even more surreal'.

"Honestly I was in a trance that whole time," Roberts told Dawgman.com Sunday after he was offered a scholarship by Sarkisian to play football at Washington. "Once he said scholarship I went off in my own world.

"At night time right before I go to bed I always say a prayer to God - Thank you for what you've done for me today, Thank you for letting me have the life that I have. And then I say, 'Please help me get a scholarship, help me go to college and play football'. I think that prayer was answered and all that hard work paid off."

Roberts plays for a football program that just had nine seniors sign scholarships to play D1 athletics, and two more in Michael Carlson and Nathan DeRider who plan to walk-on to UCLA and Washington State, respectively. Roberts is now part of a system that produces top talent on a yearly basis, and he is extremely grateful for everything the program has already done for him. And he still has two years to play for the Wolverines, so he's in a great position to repay the faith put in him by Bellevue Head Coach Butch Goncharoff all the way down to the student trainers.

"They are very proud of me," Roberts said when he told the BHS coaches about the offer. "But they remind me that this is just one of hopefully many and this should make you even more determined in the weight room and work even harder to get more.

"I did not think I could get a scholarship after my sophomore year, not at all. I definitely thought I could get some looks. In my wildest dreams I thought I would, but to have it happen has been amazing."

Roberts has been humbled and surprised already by the recruiting process. In fact he didn't even think he would be invited to Washington's Underclass Day. He wasn't expecting it. But then the invitation was extended, and his life hasn't been quite the same since.

"We got there, showed up and weighed in and measured, he said. "And then we broke up into groups and went to the dorms first and saw all the cool dorms. And then we saw all the academic side of it and the facilities, like the Paccar Building and all the business buildings.

"And then we went back and broke up into two grips. We went and got hot dogs. Coach Sark came up to me and called me out by my first name - which got me a little bit. He brought me into the gates that go into the basketball gym, out by the concessions…he brought me out and started talking with me. I was asking him questions, how his family was doing.

"He asked me if I wanted to go get my parents. I said sure. I thought he'll probably just tell them something nice about me and they'd feel good. He brought us in and started talking for a while.

"He said, 'Hey. The reason I brought you over here is that we'd like to offer Henry a full-ride scholarship to the University of Washington."

Roberts' parents both went to Washington. Henry considered himself a 'U-Dub fan'. He had gone to games and had talked to Michael Kneip and Jake Eldrenkamp about their college experience. But it was the little things during the Underclass Day that took his fandom to a different level.

"Coach Peter Sirmon, he was just a first-class act," Roberts said. "(The UW Coaches) made my parents feel super comfortable. On the way back, my Mom told me in the car that she was talking with coach Sirmon and she told him that they both alumni, and he said, 'Yeah, we know. We know a lot about you.', so that was cool that they did that."

Little things, like knowing his name, made a big difference for a kid that considers himself a teammate, just like all those other Bellevue players that suit up on Friday nights. "Coming from being some goofy, lanky kid to getting an offer from a Division-1 college you grew up around…," the thought trailed from Roberts' lips.

Roberts had always thought about what an offer would do for his life. In his mind, there was only one possible way to react to it. "Keep working," he said, matter-of-factly. "That was my first thought. And a big thank you to the Bellevue coaching staff. I couldn't accomplish what I have accomplished without them.

"If this is one, I'm working to get my second one. And after the second, how can I can get my third? It's a freeway, and U-Dub is the first stop."

Of course Washington fans want to know - it may be Henry's first stop, but will it also be his last stop? Did he ever think about accepting the offer right on the spot?

"It's a pretty big idea, but I'll tell you this - I felt, with all the new facilities and the coaching staff and everybody…I felt at home," Roberts said about making a commitment this early. "I felt comfortable and I definitely like U-Dub a lot more than I did going into it.

"I was a U-Dub fan. I would go to the games and be a big fan. I had an interest in U-Dub and I would talk to all the people - like Mike Kneip and Jake Eldrenkamp…I had a definite interest in U-Dub. But when (the offer) happened, they are one of my favorite teams now."

Roberts mentioned Stanford too; that's a school he has targeted for another scholarship. He earned a 3.5 last semester and talked about a future on the Farm. "I like Stanford a lot and I like Randy Hart, he's a really good guy," Roberts said. "You have to take into consideration that most of the brains of the world go to Stanford and a lot of people can't say that they graduated with a degree from Stanford."

Roberts played primarily the quick side tackle in Bellevue's Wing-T formation. "When I'm a senior I'll probably play strong side tackle because our strong side tackle right now will be going to college," he said, noting the UW coaches didn't map out exactly where they saw him playing in college. But at this point he doesn't really care.

"If they offered me a full-ride scholarship I'll play wherever they want me to," he said.

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