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Monday, May 20, 2013
Schools not backing off UT pledge Roberts

By William Wilkerson

Four-star Texas defensive back commit Jermaine Roberts (New Orleans/Saint Augustine) understands the game and respects the process.

Just because a recruit gives his verbal pledge, as Roberts did to the Longhorns on April 12, doesn’t mean other programs simply are going to wave a white flag and surrender the battle.

More often than not those on the outside looking in only will increase their recruiting efforts to try to sway a young man's mind.

Several national powers are trying to do that to Roberts, which he appreciates, but also politely declines.

“All the schools know that I'm committed and [am not supposed to take other visits] but it's hard not to talk to the schools when they are coming to practice and want to talk to you,” Roberts said. “It's really how I take it and how my family takes it. Right now I am 100 percent with Texas.”

Name a school and its coaches probably know how to get to Saint Augustine with a blindfold on as they've frequented it so much. For the Class of 2014, it's an opportunity to see Roberts (No. 14 cornerback), running back Leonard Fournette (No. 1 player in country), defensive tackle Courtney Garnett (Texas commit), offensive lineman Joseph Paul (Florida commit) and many other FBS caliber players.

Roberts doesn't know how else to handle it except to face it head on with a smile on his face.

“You just have to stay focused and know where you are going,” Roberts said. “I know I made a great decision. Coaches come everyday and try to change my mind. I don't think it will work. I still talk to them, not to be disrespectful, and answer their questions.”

Lately, Alabama, Ohio State and Oklahoma have made a concerted effort to stay on Roberts' mind. He has offers from all three schools.

The Crimson Tide were, at one point close to his decision to commit to Texas, the No. 1 school on his list. So it's no surprise they still believe they have a shot.

“They just tell me, they know I am committed, but they still want me to come on my visit,” Roberts said. “They tell me how much they would like me to come to their school. I just tell them that I'm not sure if I'll go on a visit. I was just talking to them about how I would play at their school and how many DBs they are trying to get.”

Alabama has the ability to sell itself due to its string of national championships. Oklahoma also has that luxury with its storied success, but the Sooners aren't missing out on the opportunity to remind Roberts of which school has won the last three Red River Rivalry games.

“Right now Oklahoma is coming the hardest,” Roberts said. “They are losing eight DBs in the next two years. They tell me how they have more Thorpe Awards than Texas (OU has three, Texas has two), how they have more people in the [NFL] or some stuff like that. They tell me how many more BCS championships they have, or Big 12 titles, than Texas. I wouldn't say they are trashing Texas, but they are trying to say they are better than them.”

Roberts knows who has the upper hand in the rivalry right now, but he points to his relationship with Texas secondary coach Duane Akina and running backs coach Larry Porter as difference-makers.

“My relationship with Coach Porter and Coach Akina is great,” Roberts said. “Everyone knows that Coach Akina is a great DBs coach, and Coach [Mack] Brown is a great head coach. They do everything the right way. It's a great school. They take care of their players and will help me after school too.”

Texas hasn't stopped recruiting Roberts since his commitment, either. Defensive tackles coach Bo Davis, Akina and Porter all have stopped by in the last few weeks.

They were there to check in on several players, including Fournette and Paul, who both have Longhorns offers.

It’s generally thought that LSU and Alabama have the inside track on Fournette, but Roberts still believes Texas has a legitimate chance with the five-star prospect.

“I try to get in his ear, but I don't want to force him. It's his decision,” Roberts said. “He's like my brother, so we talk about it sometimes. I don't want him to think I am pushing him. But I try to talk to him. I've been around him since seventh grade. Definitely we have a shot right now. He is wide open right now. He is just thinking about the season. That's the type of player he is. He wants to help everybody else.”

Even though Paul is committed to Florida he has told HornsNation on a few occasions that he'd still visit Texas and was highly interested. That visit appears to be happening on June 2 during the Longhorns' first summer camp, according to Roberts.

“Joseph and I talk every day,” he said. “Paul is definitely interested in Texas. He is coming to camp with me. He is still kind of decided on Florida, but Texas is on his mind. When we were out there [for a junior day], if Mack Brown would have never told him the rule about visiting anywhere else, he would have committed. He told me he would have committed.”