Keep an eye on: OL/DL Henry Roberts

BELLEVUE, Wash. -- Henry Roberts is only 15 years old. In fact, he just had a birthday back in August.

The sophomore at Bellevue (Wash.) is already 6-foot-5, 240 pounds. He starts at offensive tackle for the Wolverines, ranked No. 4 in the nation, and is second string on defense at tackle and end.

He understands the opportunity he has been presented with. And he is making the most of it. When he takes the field, he uses his youth as motivation.

“Basically, it just means that I have to work harder than everybody else does,” Roberts said. “Some of the guys on our team, the guys I go up against, they’re D-I athletes. It’s definitely mentally hard, but you just have to put yourself in that category of, you have to compete, losing is not an option, outwork everybody.”

Roberts might be young, but he is articulate and thoughtful. His maturity belies his age.

Each time he takes the field, he moves another step closer to a dream he has had for as long as he can remember.

“Honestly, ever since I was a little kid, my dream was to be in the NFL,” Roberts said. “Everyone tells me you’ve got a one-in-a-million chance, well, I want to go play college football for sure. I know that I have to keep working, keep getting bigger, faster and stronger. It’s like a dream of mine to go to the next level.”

Roberts also grew up playing basketball, so he has good footwork for his size. He still has plenty of developing to do physically, but he is already catching the attention of Pac-12 programs.

A fan of Washington and Washington State, Roberts grew up in a house divided with his grandfather pushing him toward the Cougars, while other family members were Huskies.

He likes both programs, but he is also intrigued by the possibilities of one day playing in the SEC.

“If I had a chance to go to the SEC, I would probably think about that a lot, because if you look at the athletes and the teams in the SEC, there’s just so much talent there,” he said. “It would be a great experience.”

Bellevue coach Butch Goncharoff is known for being measured in his praise. So, when he talks about a talented up-and-coming athlete, it is prudent to pay attention. While he sees room for Roberts to improve, he knows there is plenty of potential with his good footwork and constant motor.

“He’s going to be a great one,” Goncharoff said. “The intangibles he has, you can’t teach. Now, he’s got to get stronger, he’s 15. We’ll see what work he puts in. But he’s got the chance to be special.”

During a recent interview, Roberts was asked if there was anything he wanted to add. He took the opportunity to credit his coaches.

“How much effort they spent with us kids to help us get better, it makes a big difference,” he said.

It was another sign of maturity for the sophomore, a tall talent with plenty of time to be taught technique as he works toward a college scholarship.