I’m not going to lie to you guys. I judged this book by its cover. My initial reaction when I saw Missouri landed a commitment from Jamal Roberts , an in-state 3-star running back recruit with very few power five offers to speak of, was, well, no real reaction. It didn’t really register for me.
And hen I went to the film.
Don’t judge this book by its cover, friends. I think Rivals, and other power five teams, might be sleeping on Roberts. He’s listed at 6-foot and 200 pounds as a rising senior. He claims a 4.47 40-yard dash and has reportedly clocked a sub-11 second 100 meter time.
That’s some serious speed for a high school running back with that kind of Roberts’ size. Don’t take my word for it, though, go ahead and check out his highlights. I have a feeling you’ll leave with the same impression I’ve passed along.
Where he fits: Jamal Roberts is listed as an “athlete” by Rivals, but he’s a running back in every sense of the position. He’s much more of a one-cut and go type of runner than some of the recent running backs we’ve seen at Missouri. The only other Mizzou running back commit who made it to campus in the last 15 years to stand at least 6-foot and weigh at least 200 pounds was Nate Strong. This is a really rare size and speed combo, especially at Missouri.
Roberts’ running style is more similar to Larry Rounree’s than it is Tyler Badie’s. If I had to make a one-for-one comparison in recent years, it’s probably Damarea Crockett.
When he’ll play: If there’s a concern with Roberts, it might be the competition he faced in high school. Saint Mary’s won the Missouri class 3 state title last year, blowing away its competition in the playoffs. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Roberts was held to four carries for just five yards in Saint Mary’s biggest test of the season against Naperville Neuqua Valley, a team that made it to the quarterfinals of playoffs last year in Illinois’ biggest class. It’s an incredibly small sample size, and it does not mean Roberts won’t have success at the next level. It simply means there might be more of an adjustment period than there would be if he were playing against a higher level of competition at a more consistent basis in high school.
Regardless, I think we’ll eventually see Roberts on he field for the Tigers. He’ll likely join Elijah Young, Michael Cox, BJ Harris, Taj Butts and Tavorus Jones in the running back room next year. There is real opportunity for Roberts to work his way up the depth chart at least by his second year on campus.
What it all means: Missouri’s had a lot of success in recent years with overlooked running backs. Players like Tyler Badie, Larry Rountree and Ish Witter immediately come to mind. Jamal Roberts at least has a chance to have his name mentioned with those running backs by the time his career comes to an end at Missouri.