Derick Roberson arrived on Texas' campus this month with every intention of becoming a difference-maker for the Longhorns in 2014. The 2014 ESPN 300 defensive end from San Antonio Brennan was the Longhorns' top-rated signee and committed on the spot when offered before his junior season. He's waited a long time for this opportunity.
Before he left for Austin, Roberson had plenty on his mind: his first impression of the new Texas staff, his senior year and state title game loss to new teammate Jerrod Heard and Denton Guyer, his impressive showing (and lost bet) at the Under Armour All-America Game, and his plan for improving as a freshman.
Our summer series of weekly Q&As with the Big 12's best incoming freshmen continues with Roberson, who ranked No. 78 in the final 2014 ESPN 300.
What do you think about getting started at Texas?
Derick Roberson: I just can't wait to get everything started and lifting weights, meeting with the strength coach, putting some weight on my self and getting going. I want to get some playing time. I need to get back in shape to go against those Big 12 guys.
What have they told you about your chances of playing?
DR: They told me they don't have a position for me, I've just got to come in and prove myself. They told me I could be a stand-up defensive end/outside linebacker type. I talked to (defensive coordinator Vance) Bedford a couple times this spring about that when he came to my school. We talked defensive schemes and all that. I liked him; he's outgoing and real competitive.
What did you think when you heard the news Mack Brown was resigning?
DR: When I heard the news, I had kind of expected that he was retiring. It happens. If things aren't working right, you bring in someone else. I just went along with it, waited to see which coaches were coming in and stuck with Texas. I didn't know much about Coach (Charlie) Strong, but I did my research and he's a good defensive coach.
What are you always going to remember about playing against Jerrod Heard in the state title game?
DR: Playing against Jerrod was a really nice experience, knowing that he's going to be on my team next year. He's a real good player, he knows what he's doing. I hope he gets some playing time next year, too. They put a lot of bodies on me in that game, more than I expected, but I kept fighting and almost got to him a couple times. He's a good cat. They had a good game plan.
Are you worried he's going to tease you by pulling that championship ring out this year?
DR: Oh, no. He can pull it out. I've got a couple rings myself. It's all good.
You had a monster senior season (111 tackles, 39 TFLs, 20 sacks). What did it mean to you to end your high school career like that?
DR: Coming into my senior year, I told myself I had to get at least 20 sacks. It was time to go all out. I'm pretty happy with myself to achieve those goals. Would've been great to win state, but you know, not many teams make it to state. Honestly, I could've got more sacks if I played all game. Most of the time I'd play until halftime. I'd go in and try to get four sacks. On the first series, I go in and get to know the person who's blocking me. After that, it's a mind game with him, and I get my sacks and get my plays.
What did you learn from playing in the Under Armour All-America Game?
DR: Everybody there was top notch. In that game, I held my own pretty good, even better than most guys. Only person that had a better game than me was probably (Texas A&M signee) Myles Garrett, and we were on the same team. Before the game, we had a bet. We bet each other $20 who was going to get the first sack. I could've had one on the first drive, but he got it. I paid him after the game.
You committed to Texas as early as possible. Was it tough to stay committed from August 2012 all the way to February 2014?
DR: Texas, that was my dream school. It is a long relationship, but you've got to stay committed. What they were offering me, you just had to stay with it. And then when Charlie Strong came in, he stuck with the commitment, too. He saw the same potential in me. When I was on my official visit, he told me he wanted to speak to me first before anybody else.
What did you take away from watching the spring game?
DR: I thought the defense looked way better than last year. They were more active, more hands-on, more hitting. They did a lot of blitzes, too. The spring game looked a lot better than last year, if you ask me.
Do you think the coaching change is what Texas needed?
DR: Yes. He's talking about putting the "T" back in Texas. I think this was the right move as far as doing what was best for the football team, especially with Charlie Strong coming in.
You know Texas already has Cedric Reed and some good defensive ends, but what are you expecting from yourself in 2014?
DR: I want to have better games than Cedric Reed and Shiro Davis. That's what I've got to do, have better games than both of them. I want to get on their level and learn as much from them as I can. I've talked to Ced Reed, and he was telling me I'm going to chill with him and he's going to teach me things. I want to build a good relationship with him and pick up some things.