Bloomington – D'Angelo Roberts had been waiting for the right time to make a college decision, and…
Roberts Ready For Next Challenge at IU
"My goal was always to be a running back," said Roberts. "I learned a lot early and had to learn it in a short amount of time. I was the guy for us from my sophomore year on."
Adversity struck early, though. During his first career game at North Roberts tore his meniscus in his knee. Suddenly, the same speed and athleticism that made him North's top weapon was severely hampered.
"Because I tore my meniscus it slowed my game down some," said Roberts. "I wasn't able to out-run everybody. It taught me another aspect of the game which was I could look around and I could search and I can find a hole and drive into for as many yards as I can.
"Before that injury my goal was always to get it to the outside and score as fast as I can. I was faster than most people and I used that. But it's not always going to be that easy. I learned to start following the holes and it really helped me with my vision. I really developed my cutback ability."
Roberts said it taught him the value of every run and how every play doesn't have to be the big play.
"Sometimes you have to just dig in there and get your four of five yards," said Roberts. "Don't get me wrong, I want every play I touch the ball to be a huge run, but now I understand better what I need to do on each play. I have a job to do and it isn't always breaking a big one."
His education at tailback was far from complete, though. Roberts gritted out his injury plagued sophomore season and ended that year with a then school-record 1,388 yards. He entered his junior year excited to see what he could do when healthy. The result was the best rushing season in Monroe County history—2,604 yards and 32 touchdowns. Shortly thereafter the scholarship offers started rolling in and Roberts destiny as major conference college player was set, but he still wasn't satisfied.
"Junior year I set out a goal of rushing for 2,000 yards and I surpassed that, but we didn't make it out the sectionals that year," said Roberts. "My senior year I made a goal for myself that I wanted to help my team as much as I can and be as big of an asset as I could be for my team. I wanted to make it out the sectionals and that was my main goal."
Roberts once again rose to the challenge. Bloomington North won their first ever sectional title regional title in 2010 and lost a tough battle in the semi-state to fellow future Hoosier Tre Roberson's Lawrence Central squad. Injuries once again sapped Roberts of some of his ability during his senior season, but he came up big when it counted. His 259 yard rushing effort against Columbus North in the sectional championship remains one of his proudest moments. It marked the first time Bloomington North had beaten their rivals during Roberts time there and the first victory for his coach against his younger brother, who is the head coach at Columbus North.
"No big brother likes losing to their little brother so that was definitely one of my big goals," said Roberts. "It felt really good to get that win for coach."
With his record-breaking career at North now over, he turns his attention to even bigger goals. He will join the Hoosiers this fall fully intent on making an impact right away. The new IU staff has told him he will get his shot.
"At Oklahoma they actually played nine freshmen a year ago so Coach (Kevin) Wilson is going to give us a good opportunity I feel," said Roberts. "I'm ready to gain some good weight to get ready for my new career at Indiana and hopefully be what everybody expects me to be. I just want to come in and work real hard and work my way up that ladder."
To do that Roberts has been focusing on increasing his training. He wants to enroll this fall at around 190-195 pounds, up from his current 182 pounds, while still maintaining the 4.3 speed he flashed at camps last summer. With an up-tempo, no huddle staff now in place he is also working on his cardiovascular fitness.
"I feel like I've kind of got away from that a little bit this year because I've been focusing on the books more and making sure that's all taken care of," said Roberts. "I need to get myself in condition so that when camp starts I will be in the best shape I have ever been in my life and see what goes from there."
Roberts views himself as an every-down back and points to his almost 500 yards receiving last season as a sign of his growing versatility. He wants to be prepared for whatever the new coaching staff asks of him, but his attitude already seems to be on the same page.
"I just want to do some hard work because I want to leave Indiana University with a couple rings," said Roberts. "I think that's true of every teammate of mine. We are going to bring success to this program. I feel like everything is on the way up and we want to be ready when we get there from day one."
In two weeks Roberts will sign his name on the dotted line and affirm his commitment to the Hoosiers. In about six months he will begin his next set of challenges on the football field.
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