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Athlete Spotlight:
Colleges After Haddonfield's Roberts

Courtesy of The Trend Community Newsmagazine

For an ex-soccer player, Ryan Roberts hasn't done too badly in football. Now a senior at Haddonfield, the 6-foot-2, 220-pound fullback-defensive end, is one of the most desirable football recruits in South Jersey.

Colleges are enamored with his athletic ability. Roberts recently ran a 4.78 40-yard dash. He is quick enough to get by bigger offensive linemen and strong enough to throw them out of his path.

Roberts has also impressed colleges with his work in the classroom. A strong student at one of South Jersey's top academic institutions, Roberts has already scored 1,250 on the SAT.

No wonder schools such as Wake Forest, North Carolina State, Rutgers, Syracuse and Virginia Tech had already offered him a football scholarship prior to the beginning of practice this season.

"He's got a lot going for him," said Haddonfield coach Jim Horner. "Besides being a great football player, he is a great student and great kid. It's easy to see why so many schools are interested in him. Ryan ranks up with the best players I have coached."

Roberts used his analytical ability to decide on football when he entered Haddonfield. While growing up, he never played the sport on an organized level, opting for soccer, where he was a speedy and physical midfielder.

Roberts' goal has always been to earn a college scholarship and he said it was easy to choose football.

"I know there are more scholarships in football than in soccer," said Roberts, who still played club soccer while he played freshman football at Haddonfield, but gave up the sport after that year. "That helped me make up my mind."

There was a simple reason why he didn't play midget football.

"If you would have seen me back then, you would realize that I couldn't make the weight requirements," Roberts said laughing.

He originally thought he might have a chance to be a football starter by his junior year. It was one of the few times Roberts was wrong. Actually, he became a starter on the offensive and defensive line as a sophomore. Last year in Homer's first season, he was switched to fullback on offense.

His goal is to be a research scientist.

"I really enjoyed chemical molecular biology and enjoyed studying genetics and want to be a geneticist," Roberts said. "It's an area which fascinates me."

He is being recruited as mainly an outside linebacker or a fullback by colleges. Most schools project him as a linebacker, although Notre Dame and Iowa are two which told him they'd fit into their programs better as a fullback. It doesn't matter to Roberts whether he plays offense or defense, but he hopes after this season that his days as a lineman are over.

"I prefer outside linebacker to the defensive line because I'd have to gain less weight," Roberts said. "I don't want to be 265 pounds when I graduate from college and have to get a special lab jacket that fits me."

Roberts says the fact that some schools have already offered scholarships has eased his mind. It hasn't made choosing a school any easier.

"Every time I think I have it narrowed to 10 schools, another school comes into the picture," he said. "It's exciting to be recruited, but also confusing because there are so many good schools."

One thing's for sure. Roberts' decision will center as much on academics as it will on the football program. Roberts has always enjoyed success in the classroom and now he's matching it on the football field. The ex-soccer player has come a long way since he first put on the football gear at Haddonfield and wasn't sure if he was putting it on correctly.

"I know a lot of kids who have been playing since midget football get bored with it by the time they are in high school," he said. "There is a lot that is still new to me. I think with my inexperience, that my better days are ahead."

So do scores of colleges who are recruiting Roberts.