When Jermaine Roberts (New Orleans/St. Augustine) went on Twitter on Friday to announce he was officially committing to Texas, he received the typical flood of congratulatory messages. One stood out among the rest.
“MAN... You shoulda went with LSU!!” Tyrann Mathieu wrote. “But thats a great school for DBs also! You sure you dont wanna go to LSU DBU???? Lol”
The ESPN Watch List cornerback expected that good-natured ribbing. Mathieu, the former LSU star corner and Heisman Trophy finalist, has developed a real bond with Roberts and become a mentor for Texas’ newest commit.
“Oh, that was cool. Real cool,” Roberts said of the tweet. “We talk every day. He’s like another brother to me. He calls me and I call him anytime I want to talk.”
They share more in common than just their Louisiana roots. In fact, it’s easy to see why Mathieu would gravitate toward Roberts. Like the diminutive “Honey Badger,” Roberts is used to his 5-foot-10, 170-pound frame leading some to underestimate his game. He’s glad the Longhorns recognized his potential early on in his recruitment.
“I consider myself like Tyrann Mathieu," Roberts said. "I watched him and wanted to play like him. I came up wanting to be like him. I want to bring to the Texas defense what Tyrann Mathieu brought to LSU, and we’re going to be on the rise.”
Roberts pulled the trigger on a pledge Friday afternoon during an unofficial visit to Texas, becoming the program’s 15th verbal commit for its 2014 class.
He knew committing during the visit was a real possibility, but Roberts wasn’t going to do it unless his family was on board. He wanted his mother’s approval, and she gave it early on in the day.
“My mom loved it and my grandma loved it,” he said. “For us, it was more than football. It was also academics. It was coach [Mack] Brown, because he’s a great guy. Coach [Duane] Akina and coach [Larry] Porter, I have a great relationship with them.”
What won over the family was Brown’s vow that Texas would honor his scholarship if he got hurt during his senior season, plus the promise UT would pay his way through school even if he leaves early for the NFL. They appreciate that commitment, and that’s one reason why Roberts made his on Friday.
When asked if the final decision came down to Texas vs. Texas A&M as expected, Roberts said it was simpler than that: He was sold ever since Brown offered him a scholarship on Feb. 23.
Roberts joins St. Augustine teammate Courtney Garnett as the Longhorns’ second commit from Louisiana, and more importantly he’s the first defensive back in the class. In a year with so many talented defensive back recruits in the state of Texas, Roberts is excited to see who’s committing next.
“I do feel some pressure being the first DB, because I know there are a couple guys they’re going after,” Roberts said. “We’ll try to get them on board and do something special.”
Roberts made a Mathieu-like impact for St. Augustine in 2012 with nine interceptions, 13 pass breakups and 47 tackles. He’s ready to follow in his friend’s footsteps in college, but first he’ll put in some work to see if any more teammates will be joining him and Garnett in Austin.
Texas is in the running for top running back Leonard Fournette and continues to show interest in offensive lineman Joseph Paul, who considered UT his favorite school early on before committing to Florida in March.
“I’m not going to pressure them,” Roberts said. “We’ll talk about it and see how they feel about Texas.”
There are no doubts when it comes to how Roberts feels about Texas. He’s shutting down his recruiting process. No matter what anyone back home may say – even the guy he considers his idol – Roberts is proud to be a Longhorn.
“I’m very excited that I committed. Now I just have to keep working hard,” he said. “I know Texas and everyone else will be watching.”