Rise of Roberts

After a solid performance in WVU's annual spring drills, one Mountain State native may have earned the opportunity to contribute on offense and special teams when the season rolls around.

Madison, W.Va., native Jordan Roberts has been spending the summer trying to build on the momentum he carried through the spring practice period.

The Scott High alumnus ended his spring on a high note, breaking free for a 65-yard touchdown run in the Gold-Blue Game and ending the day with 75 yards on the ground against West Virginia's starting defense.

That game, and a solid performance through the earlier portion of spring practice, led Mountaineer head coach Bill Stewart to give the redshirt freshman notice that he could see the field this season.

"He's said he's going to use me on special teams and that I have a chance to be the short-yardage back," Roberts said of Stewart.

While the chance to play special teams is nothing Roberts intends to sneeze at, it's clear that the latter opportunity is a bit more appealing to him.

"I'd like to get in the running back rotation and get some carries to help out," he said. "I want to play. I want to be on offense, not just playing on special teams."

That Roberts, who less than a year ago was working towards a redshirt year in which he would earn accolades as WVU's offensive scout team player of the year, is in a position to potentially earn carries (even if only in short-yardage situations) is a testament to just how far he has come in a short period of time.

But while the exercise physiology major admitted that it was difficult as a redshirted player to "sit there watching people play," he also knew the time away from in-game action was a chance to develop himself as a player.

"That (redshirt) year, you've got to try to get better," Roberts said. "You can't just slack off and not learn the plays. You've got to push yourself in practice, because that's a year to mature and get better and develop into a better player."

"There's more competition here. You have to set yourself apart from everybody else."

In an attempt to do that, Roberts has been working even harder than some of his West Virginia teammates during an already difficult summer strength and conditioning program.

"Right now, I'm trying to get stronger and faster like everybody else," he said. "Sometimes, I'll work out here and then go to the Rec and do extra stuff. I'm just trying to help the team out and get in the running back rotation."

That extra work may come in handy, as Roberts has had significant work to do with his body for the second consecutive year.

Only a season ago, Roberts came to Morgantown expecting to work as a defensive back. That meant he had to drop weight from his then-218 pound frame in an attempt to make himself quicker and better able to cover opposing receivers.

The weight came off, as the freshman dropped as low as 199 pounds.

Then, however, came a move back to running back -- which Roberts called his "natural position" -- and with it, a need to gain that same weight back once more.

While he said it is "harder to gain weight now," Roberts has found some success. Still listed as a 204-pound defensive back on the team's official roster, the redshirt freshman said he is currently tipping the scales at 212 pounds.

"I'm still trying to get up about five more pounds," he said. "I'll probably be like 220 by the season."

While nothing has come easily for Roberts since arriving on campus, the in-state native said that was essentially what he expected coming from a smaller high school to a major college football program. Rather than shying away from the competition, he seems to be taking it on as readily as possible.

"I figured everybody was going to be good," he said. "That's why I'm working hard this offseason. I'm trying to get better than everybody else."


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