Texas Football: What Longhorn Fans Should Expect from Derick Roberson in 2014
Quarterback Jerrod Heard has drawn most of the headlines, but it is defensive end Derick Roberson who arrives as Texas' top-rated recruit of its 2014 class.
Heard's redshirt becomes more likely with every development in the Max Wittek story, so Roberson will be the recruit fans expect to make the early splash.
Normally known for their defensive backs, the Longhorns have done a great job of churning out defensive ends like Brian Orakpo, Alex Okafor and Jackson Jeffcoat. A 4-star recruit from San Antonio, Roberson will look to follow in their footsteps when he arrives this summer.
When that day comes, Roberson has some work to do before becoming an impact player for the Longhorns. But once he begins to realize his considerable potential, he will be well on his way to becoming the program's next great pass-rusher.
All recruiting rankings and information courtesy of 247Sports.
Unless otherwise noted, all stats courtesy of TexasSports.com.
Unlike many of the nation's other top defensive ends, Roberson's high rating is based mostly on his potential at the position. Even though he won't see extensive action from day one, that alone will allow him to draw rave reviews from whoever watches him put in the work.
From an athletic standpoint, Roberson has every tool needed to become an impact defensive end. Standing over 6'3", he possesses great length to separate from blockers along with the explosiveness to blow right past them.
The only trait that will keep him from busting into the rotation is his strength. Roberson weighs just 235 pounds, which is about 15-20 pounds short of being able to handle college linemen on a consistent basis.
That deficiency, however, will not prevent this kid from flashing his ability in practice. He is too gifted of an athlete and will eat up matchups against guys who aren't prepared to deal with his quickness. Those moments will get his coaches and teammates talking about just how good he is going to be.
Action on Passing Downs
Behind Cedric Reed, no Longhorn defensive end has recorded more than one career sack. That lack of depth will open the door for Roberson to get some action on obvious passing downs.
In the pass-happy Big 12, getting pressure on the quarterback is essential to recording defensive stops. Unless someone emerges, Reed is Texas' only end who has proven he can do that. But after his 10-sack junior season, teams will shift the protection his way and force another pass-rusher to make a play.
Because of Roberson's athletic ability, he should get his chances to help Reed out in passing situations. Even if he doesn't put on considerable size, he has the quickness to burst into the backfield and chase down the passer.
If he can rack up a few sacks in this role, as Jackson Jeffcoat did in his freshman year, it would be a promising start to Roberson's college career.
The main obstacle on Roberson's path to becoming Texas' next great pass-rusher is his size. It will take some time, but he will play and deliver some exciting moments in 2014.
Roberson's weight by the conclusion of fall practice will directly correlate to his readiness to make an impact. Should he still be hovering closer to 240 pounds, it could take a few games for him to get his chance. But if he can pull a Tyrone Swoopes and add that 15-20 pounds, he will be a lock to play at least 25 percent of the downs.
Given that he doesn't arrive until May, the first scenario seems more likely. However, the current status of the position makes it difficult to imagine that the coaches would try to redshirt him. They need more guys who can get to the quarterback, and he will get his chances to prove he can do that as soon as they feel he is ready.
Consider anything over two sacks to be a great debut campaign that sets the stage for him to command the position as a sophomore.