Arkansas Football: Inside Look at Incoming Freshman Donovan Roberts


Fayetteville, Ark. – To be a successful Divison-I college football team regardless of the conference said team is a member of that team has to be able to run the ball effectively especially on running downs. A solid offensive line can open the holes but a great back will take advantage of those situations turning a two-yard run into a five-yard gain.

The Arkansas Razorback coaching staff has two types of running backs they like to recruit, 1) the 5’10 to 6’1” breakaway back that can carry the ball every down and 2) the bruising 6’2” or taller runner that weighs 230 or better and punishes defenders at the end of each run.

If either sized or skill possessing back wants more playing time they have to be able to pick up the blitz in passing situations and they have to be able to catch the ball out of the backfield to exploit one-on-one matchups with linebackers in space.

Incoming freshman Donovan Roberts is another running back in the current Razorback mold of Knile Davis, Ronnie Wingo, Jr., and Dennis Johnson… fast, strong, and a power runner.

Roberts, 6’0”, 200 pounds, was a star from the start for Norman High School (Norman, Okla.). As a sophomore Roberts rushed for over 1,000 yards with four scores leading to a breakout junior season that ended with 2,002 rushing yards with 32 touchdowns.

His senior season he was slowed by nagging injuries throughout and a leg injury towards the end of the season that lead to a first round playoff loss for Norman. By the end of Norman’s 2011 season the 6A-3 District Offensive Player of the Year had run for 1,595 yards with 23 touchdowns.

Per haps recruiting services punished Roberts for having a stellar junior season knocking him down in their rankings? Or maybe in-state scouts were biased against the first-team All-State performer for verbally committing to Arkansas in April of 2011? Either way Roberts was one of the most prolific high school running backs in the nation during his three year run totaling 4,598 yards from the line of scrimmage with 59 rushing touchdowns despite receiving average national rankings at the tailback position.

Listing to Roberts speak one instantly gets the sense that he is a team player first and very humble despite all of his on field success. He is also a man of his word.

After committing to Arkansas early in his recruiting process, top schools like Michigan, Arizona, Indiana, Iowa State, Pittsburgh, and Kansas State still pursued Roberts with no success. In-state and national powerhouse Oklahoma took a late run at Roberts trying to sway him to stay home but through it all Roberts stuck with the Razorbacks.

Roberts enrolled at Arkansas on June 3. He walked onto campus reporting a 260-pound bench press and a 500-pound max squat. With 4.4 forty-yard dash speed and a high school background of running success Arkansas appears to be getting another SEC ready running back when the time comes.

Arkansas will lose running backs Johnson and Wingo to graduation with the possibility of Davis going pro at the end of the 2012 season. Carries out of the backfield will be tough to come by for incoming freshmen Roberts, Nathan Holmes, and Jonathan Williams this season. The Razorback coaching staff will lay the groundwork for the future success of Arkansas’ program among the three talented recruits in 2012.

Inside the Numbers

Arkansas successfully recruited the state of Oklahoma in 2012 signing Roberts the No. 6 in-state player and wide receiver Keon Hatcher the No. 5 in-state player per

Roberts had a season high 212 yard rushing game with four touchdowns before suffering an end of the season leg injury.

Roberts’ high school teammate George Kittle signed a letter of intent to play wide receiver for University of Iowa.

Recruiting Rankings No. 26 RB in the nation, No. 7 in-state, 3-star No. 45 RB in the nation, 3-star No. 32 RB in the nation, No. 6 in-state, 3-star

Arkansas Razorback Recruits 2012

OG Cordale Boyd, 3-star, 6’3”, 290 pounds, Memphis, TN

OG Jeremy Ward, 3-star, 6’4”, 290 pounds, Pottsville, AR

WR D’Arthur Cowan, 3-star, 6’1’, 175 pounds, Olive Branch, MS

WR Keon Hatcher, 4-star, 6’1”, 195 pounds, Owasso, OK

WR Eric Hawkins, 3-star, 6’5”, 220, Longview, TX

WR #Demetrius Wilson, 3-star, 6’2”, 170 pounds, Glendale, AZ

WR McKale McKay, 3-star, 6’6”, 192 pounds, Louisville, KY

RB Nathan Holmes, 3-star, 6’1”, 180 pounds, Port Arthur, TX

RB Donovan Roberts, 3-star, 6’0”, 200 pounds, Norman, OK

RB Jonathan Williams, 4-star, 5’11”, 205 pounds, Allen, TX

TE/DE Jeremy Sprinkle, 3-star, 6’6”, 215, White Hall, AR

TE *Demetrius Dean, 3-star, 6’3”, 250 pounds, Fayetteville, AR

CB Ray Buchanan Jr., 3-star, 5’10”, 170 pounds, Suwanee, GA

CB Jared Collins, 3-star, 5’11”, 170 pounds, Tulsa, OK

FS Will Hines, 3-star, 6’1”, 175 pounds, Waco, TX

SS Defonta Lowe, 3-star, 6’2”, 180 pounds, Bearden, AR

LB A.J. Turner, 3-star, 6’3”, 200 pounds, Lepanto, AR

LB Vin Ascolese, 3-star, 6’2”, 215 pounds, New Bergen, NJ

LB Otha Peters, 4-star, 6’1”, 220 pounds, Covington, LA

DE Brandon Lewis, 3-star, 6’5”, 220 pounds, Memphis, TN

DE JaMichael Winston, 3-star, 6’6”, 230 pounds, Prichard, AL

DE Darius Philon, 3-star, 6’1”, 282 pounds, Prichard, AL

DE Deatrich Wise Jr., 4-star, 6’5”, 220 pounds, Carrolton, TX

DE Taiwan Johnson, 3-star, 6’3”, 240 pounds, Manvel, TX

DE *#Austin Flynn, 3-star, 6’4”, 250 pounds, Los Angeles Harbor CC

*Early enrollee at University of Arkansas

# Denotes junior college player

Position by position breakdown of Arkansas 2012 verbal commitments:

Offensive line: two

Running backs: three

Wide receivers: five

Quarterbacks: none

Tight ends: two

Defensive line: six

Linebackers: three

Safeties: two

Cornerbacks: two

Kickers: none

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