Football and University High School senior Mike Roberg are genetically linked.
No other member of his immediate family has the size of the 6-foot-4-inch, 240-pound Titan tight end.
Relatives Jim and Rich Moran on his mother’s side, however, were linemen for the NFL’s New York Giants and Green Bay Packers, respectively.
Roberg could wind up a lineman himself someday, but it will take a persuasive coach to convince him.
Right now what the third-year starter enjoys is catching footballs and running over people.
“I like a couple of blocks but it is not the funnest thing in a football game,” said Roberg. “Passing and catching the ball is.”
Last summer, U-Hi’s coaches considered moving him to tackle because he wasn’t fast enough.
“I didn’t like that very much,” he said. “I pretty much said I was going to play tight end.”
He worked during the summer to improve his speed and keep his position. The result was a most valuable player award as tight end during the University of Idaho football camp.
It also caught the attention of Idaho coaches who have been in constant contact with him this fall.
With good reason. For a big man, Roberg has exceptional hands and is quick enough afoot to play left field on the baseball team.
“I would love to play college football,” said Roberg. “I’d like to go to a Pac 10 school. We’ll see after the season.”
Going into Friday night’s game against Gonzaga Prep, he had caught 15 passes for 227 yards in six Greater Spokane League games.
More importantly, he has attracted constant double teams that have made life tougher on him but easier for the Titan wide receivers, who have caught 740 yards in receptions and scored seven touchdowns.
“Mike has been the pillar of our offensive and defensive line and has allowed our passing game to be more versatile due to the fact defenses are concentrating on him,” said U-Hi coach Mike Ganey.
Roberg said wide receiver Joe Jeffries has told him he finds it is easier to catch a football “when defenders are always converging on me.”
The same holds true for his teammates on defense.
“He takes up two gaps,” said defensive line coach Bob Finn. “I don’t think opposition blocking schemes allow them to go one-on-one against him. If they do he overpowers them.”
It is an impressive sight when the massive football player crosses the middle on a passing pattern.
Earlier in the year, Roberg and Ferris linebacker Tim Benton arrived at the ball together. Roberg caught it and knocked the talented Saxon flat.
Later, on the first touchdown reception of his career, Roberg reached over people for the catch and dragged would-be tacklers with him into the end zone.
There are questions whether he is quick enough to be a major college tight end. But there are no doubters about his ability to play at that level.
“His interest is to play tight end and I hope colleges give him the opportunity,” said Ganey.
But, said Roberg, “coach Ganey asks me to keep my mind open. If colleges ask me to play line, I’d say yeah.”
In the meantime, Roberg is savoring his remaining chances to catch the ball and run over people.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo
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