UMass’ lo­cal ties help with com­mit­ment from Roberts

Baltimore Sun - - SPORTS - By Kyle J. An­drews

Af­ter some time of de­lib­er­a­tion, McDonogh ju­nior wide re­ceiver Jamir Roberts com­mit­ted on Wed­nes­day. He plans to go to UMass to con­tinue his foot­ball ca­reer.

UMass has deep DMV ties with head coach Walt Bell be­ing Maryland’s quar­ter­backs coach and of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor dur­ing the 2016-2017 sea­sons and for­mer In­di­anapo­lis Colts line­backer and cur­rent out­side lineback­ers coach Cato June, who grad­u­ated from DC’s Ana­cos­tia High School. Both coaches pro­vided a sense of home for Roberts with their lo­cal con­nec­tions.

“It played a big role in know­ing some­one com­ing from the area that I’m from to make it big so that he [June] could sup­port me at UMass,” Roberts said. “I had a feel­ing that it would feel like home. He [Bell] knew the area very well – he talked about DMV grit a lot and I liked it a lot.”

Head­ing into the off­sea­son, Roberts sat down with his head coach Ha­keem Sule and his fa­ther — and drew up a plan. The plan would be for Roberts to head to mul­ti­ple camps dur­ing the sum­mer to build his pro­file, as well as tour­ing mul­ti­ple col­leges. Then, the coro­n­avirus came.

“With COVID-19, we weren’t able to do that,” said Sule about their orig­i­nal plan. “So, most of our con­ver­sa­tions and what you’re see­ing across the board is Zoom meet­ings — it took place in a vir­tual set­ting.”

How­ever, it wasn’t just Zoom meet­ings that pushed Roberts to make his de­ci­sion.

“I loved how UMass checked up on me on Twit­ter or iMes­sage,” said Roberts. “It was great and we knew with ev­ery­thing go­ing on with COVID-19, we may not get a chance to visit these schools. So, I made my de­ci­sion based on how the coaches at UMass de­scribed plays and how they made me feel wel­comed.”

Be­fore com­mit­ting to UMass, Roberts had of­fers from Brown, Columbia, LIU, Mer­ri­mack, Navy, Robert Mor­ris, Sa­cred Heart, and Mor­gan State.

Roberts played an im­por­tant role in McDonogh’s 11-1 sea­son in 2019 on both sides of the ball. He had11re­cep­tions for 293 yards and three touch­down grabs as a re­ceiver and tied for the team lead with four in­ter­cep­tions across from Maryland com­mit Dante Trader. It was Roberts’ first sea­son with McDonogh, af­ter spend­ing his first two years at Gil­man.

Off of the field, Roberts is known as a leader in the class­room — of­ten ask­ing his teach­ers many ques­tions and fol­low­ing up with them af­ter class. He nearly made the dean’s list in his first se­mes­ter at McDonogh dur­ing the foot­ball sea­son and has over a 3.6 GPA.

“When you see him on the field, he’s a very elec­tri­fy­ing player,” Sule said. “He’s got tremen­dous ball skills on both sides of the ball and we saw that on the of­fen­sive end – he was one of our top re­ceivers on the team and on the de­fen­sive end, he and Dante [Trader] led the team in in­ter­cep­tions. So, he con­trib­uted a lot to our suc­cess on and off the field this year.”

With his team’s suc­cess last year, Roberts looks to com­plete the ul­ti­mate goal of win­ning an MIAA cham­pi­onship in his se­nior sea­son.

“We’ve got a lot of guys com­ing back, I see us do­ing the same thing that we did last year, but hope­fully win the cham­pi­onship this time,” said Roberts. “We’ve got a great D-line, we’ve got Dante Trader com­ing back — we lost some guys this year, but we’ve got some new guys to fill those roles. So, it’ll be great.”

KARL MER­TON FERRON/BAL­TI­MORE SUN

McDonogh wide re­ceiver Jamir Roberts is now com­mit­ted to play foot­ball at UMass.

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