GatorCountry.com continues its series previewing the players who will make up the 2012 Florida Gators football team this season.
Each day, we’ll count off another scholarship player until the Florida football season officially begins Sept. 1 against Bowling Green in The Swamp.
Today, we take a look at sophomore cornerback Marcus Roberson.
A four-star prospect by the national recruiting networks Roberson began his Florida football career with high expectations. He was the No. 2 cornerback in the country by Rivals.com. He signed with Florida over Auburn, Texas Tech and USC thanks to the recruiting prowess of Gators assistant Tarvaris Robinson.
With Roberson locking down the cornerback position his senior season, St. Thomas Aquinas posted a 15-0 record and won the 5A championship. The Raiders finished No. 3 in the USA Today Super 25 national rankings.
On the field, Roberson shined as a true freshman and started the first 10 games of his career before suffering a neck injury. He finished with 22 tackles, including 17 solo stops, an interception and a fumble recovery.
Off the field, Roberson was arrested for underage drinking on campus on Sept. 14, 2011. In November, he accepted a deferred prosecution agreement on the misdemeanor charge.
Roberson is not a speed corner, but he possesses the quickness and technique to mirror the movements of most top receivers in man coverage. Also seems to backpedal about as fast or faster than any player on the roster while making smooth transitions in and out of breaks.
He seems to adjust well to routes while the ball is in the air, keeping his head and hips on a swivel. He also works well in zone coverage and has excellent instincts at reading routes as they develop because of his vision. He breaks on the ball extremely well while it’s in the air.
In run support, his tackling seemed to improve as last season progressed. Roberson is physical and aggressive, especially when trying to jam a receiver. He possesses great size (6-foot, 178 pounds) for a cornerback and plenty of strength for such a young player.
What got Roberson on the field as a true freshman was his overall ability at the position. He certainly received excellent coaching in high school, which is no surprise coming out of the St. Thomas Aquinas football factory.
What to Expect
It was a surprise to see Roberson listed as the “co-starter” on the official depth chart that was released Monday. Apparently, he hasn’t separated himself enough from Jaylen Watkins to earn the starting nod after fall camp.
That could be attributed to Watkins’ improved play or Roberson being slow to return to top form after missing contact during spring practices. By all accounts, Roberson has responded well to contact and continues to improve on the overall strong play he displayed last season.
Regardless of if he starts, we fully expect to see a lot of Robeson in 2011. Even though he’s only a sophomore, he is the Gators’ most battle-tested cornerback and that experience will pay huge dividends as the Gators face some complex passing attacks this season.
Here’s a quick highlight video from Roberson’s senior season, showing his skills in pass coverage and run support: