Upon transferring to John Milledge Academy before his junior year, Je’Mazin Roberts found not only a new school to call home, but also a new position on the football field.
Having played primarily defensive line and even some tight end before becoming a Trojan, Roberts was asked to make the move to middle linebacker beginning in his 11th-grade season.
“Most young guys would balk at the notion of changing positions, thinking it was all about them, but he understood it was all about the team,” JMA head football coach JT Wall said.
Some players are so talented they just cannot be denied, and Roberts is one example. A position switch midway through high school did not stop him from garnering multiple Division I football offers. Last month he verbally committed to The Citadel in South Carolina, and he made good on that promise Wednesday by signing his national letter of intent to attend the DI FCS military college in Charleston.
“It’s a great place,” Roberts said of his future college home. “It’s a family-oriented place, and everybody’s close there. They all strive for one goal — to get better as young men and as student-athletes.”
The 6-2, 240-pound defensive player will find out when he gets to campus whether he’ll remain as a middle linebacker or move to the outside. He did great for the Trojans as an MLB these past two seasons where he earned GISA All-State and All-Region nods as well as All-County recognition from The Union-Recorder. Roberts had a team-high 75 total tackles in 2020 and was second on the team with 11.5 tackles for loss. His numbers would have been higher but he and his defensive starter teammates got to take a lot of second halves off as John Milledge obliterated every opponent it faced on the way to back-to-back state championships. On-the-field production wasn’t the only thing the middle linebacker brought to the table.
“He has a presence that makes people want to gravitate towards him, and he has an uncanny ability to get the best out of his teammates,” Wall said.
Roberts is one of many high school student-athletes whose recruiting journey was complicated by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Potential collegiate destinations really ramped up communications with Roberts after his junior season, but then the coronavirus hit and shut many traditional recruiting practices down. That includes invite camps where standout players can attend and show how well they stack up against other elite athletes. Lack of camps may have kept even bigger offers from rolling in, but Roberts believes he has landed in the best situation for him. He was able to take an academic visit to The Citadel campus, and he made his verbal commitment the very day after he received his scholarship offer.
“This is a blessing and a great opportunity,” he said. “It’s one of the best things to ever happen to me in my life. … The Citadel was one of the biggest offers I had, and I could not pass it up. It’s the place I wanted to be.”