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UMass’ local ties drew McDonogh wide receiver Jamir Roberts to commit

Calvert Hall Cardinals linebacker Kahlil Glover (5) and defensive back Adewale Obayanju watch McDonogh Eagles wide receiver Jamir Roberts (9) make a reception before taking it for a touchdown at John McDonogh Stadium Fri., Oct. 4, 2019.
Calvert Hall Cardinals linebacker Kahlil Glover (5) and defensive back Adewale Obayanju watch McDonogh Eagles wide receiver Jamir Roberts (9) make a reception before taking it for a touchdown at John McDonogh Stadium Fri., Oct. 4, 2019.(Karl Merton Ferron / Baltimore Sun)

After some time of deliberation, McDonogh junior wide receiver Jamir Roberts committed on Wednesday. He plans to go to UMass to continue his football career.

UMass has deep DMV ties with head coach Walt Bell being Maryland’s quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator during the 2016-2017 seasons and former Indianapolis Colts linebacker and current outside linebackers coach Cato June, who graduated from DC’s Anacostia High School. Both coaches provided a sense of home for Roberts with their local connections.

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“It played a big role in knowing someone coming from the area that I’m from to make it big so that he [June] could support me at UMass,” Roberts said. “I had a feeling that it would feel like home. He [Bell] knew the area very well – he talked about DMV grit a lot and I liked it a lot.”

Heading into the offseason, Roberts sat down with his head coach Hakeem Sule and his father -- and drew up a plan. The plan would be for Roberts to head to multiple camps during the summer to build his profile, as well as touring multiple colleges. Then, the coronavirus came.

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“With COVID-19, we weren’t able to do that,” said Sule about their original plan. “So, most of our conversations and what you’re seeing across the board is Zoom meetings – it took place in a virtual setting.”

However, it wasn’t just Zoom meetings that pushed Roberts to make his decision.

“I loved how UMass checked up on me on Twitter or iMessage,” said Roberts. “It was great and we knew with everything going on with COVID-19, we may not get a chance to visit these schools. So, I made my decision based on how the coaches at UMass described plays and how they made me feel welcomed.”

Before committing to UMass, Roberts had offers from Brown, Columbia, LIU, Merrimack, Navy, Robert Morris, Sacred Heart, and Morgan State.

Roberts played an important role in McDonogh’s 11-1 season in 2019 on both sides of the ball. He had 11 receptions for 293 yards and three touchdown grabs as a receiver and tied for the team lead with four interceptions across from Maryland commit Dante Trader. It was Roberts’ first season with McDonogh, after spending his first two years at Gilman.

Off of the field, Roberts is known as a leader in the classroom – often asking his teachers many questions and following up with them after class. He nearly made the dean’s list in his first semester at McDonogh during the football season and has over a 3.6 GPA.

“When you see him on the field, he’s a very electrifying player,” Sule said. “He’s got tremendous ball skills on both sides of the ball and we saw that on the offensive end – he was one of our top receivers on the team and on the defensive end, he and Dante [Trader] led the team in interceptions. So, he contributed a lot to our success on and off the field this year.”

With his team’s success last year, Roberts looks to complete the ultimate goal of winning an MIAA championship in his senior season.

“We’ve got a lot of guys coming back, I see us doing the same thing that we did last year, but hopefully win the championship this time,” said Roberts. “We’ve got a great d-line, we’ve got Dante Trader coming back – we lost some guys this year, but we’ve got some new guys to fill those roles. So, it’ll be great.”

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