Reggie Roberson Jr is the next wide receiver that will be coming out of the SMU pipeline. David Gru, the SMU wide receivers coach said that the trait that separates Roberson from previous SMU wide receivers is his world class speed.
“A few things come to mind with Reggie,” Gru said. “The first is his speed. He has world class speed and he practices and plays even faster.”
Roberson started his collegiate career at West Virginia before transferring to SMU in 2018. During his first year on campus he reeled in 52 receptions for 802 yards and six touchdowns. He also added special teams value, returning one kickoff for a touchdown.
In 2019, Roberson was on a torrid pace before having his season cut short due to an injury. In eight games he recorded 43 receptions for 803 yards and six touchdowns.
“Reggie was on pace to have a historical season for a wideout in both his previous seasons,” Gru said. “Last year in just under half the season, he already piled up well over 800 yards. He was on pace to put up at least 1,600 yards in one season. The overall improvement in his maturity fueled his success on the field. He took pride in doing the right thing, being on time, writing notes in class and film sessions, developing trust and an open dialogue with his coaches and teammates. I believe by letting his guard down he was happier, worked harder, and developed a strong connection with his team. I think Reggie would credit a lot of his maturity and success to coach Kaz and coach (Scott) Nady, who still have even higher expectations for him.”
Roberson is a big play waiting to happen. In 2019, he averaged 18.7 yards per reception. For his career he owns an average of 16.9 yards per reception. According to Pro Football Focus, in 2018 Roberson recorded an AAC leading 459 receiving yards on deep passes.
“I would say that Reggie is an every tool kind of player,” Gru said. “But his ultimate strength is his vertical threat, which I would put up against anybody in the country.”
That vertical threat is due to his world class speed. Roberson is quick to gain initial separation at the line of scrimmage and once he gets a step on the defensive back it’s game over. That quickness is evident in his route running as well. Gru said that one thing Roberson is working on his slowing down and working on the intricacies of route running.
“His speed allows him to be a legitimate threat with every type of deep route,” Gru said. “He has a great understanding of timing with quick and intermediate routes, especially with how often he works to throw with Shane (Buechele). Reggie is so fast and explosive that its zero to 60 all the time, so it’s been a process for him to become a little more savvy and under control with his underneath routes. He is also working very hard to improve his physicality and using his hands more effectively off press and running through contact. It allow him to be much more patient with his releases and develop strong body control as he runs so he can control his separation when the ball gets there, something that Proche was elite at.”
With Roberson’s game-breaking speed he’s a threat to make plays after the catch. However, it’s not something he’s been able to showcase during his time at SMU thus far. That’s an aspect of his game that Gru said they are planning on changing in 2020.
“Reggie made a living in high school getting the ball quick and taking it the house,” Gru said. “He is just as explosive as he is fast and it’s so hard for defenders to catch him. We did a bad job schematically of getting him quicker throws and easier completions, so he hasn’t fully shown what he is capable of yet in college. We have addressed it and made it a point of emphasis to get him the ball quicker and let him do what he does. Reggie needs to be a decisive one cut and go kind of dude when he gets the ball and I think he will be able to really show how versatile and dangerous he really is this year.”
With Proche no longer in the picture, Roberson is now the unquestioned number one target for SMU quarterback, Shane Buechele. Roberson is coming off back-to-back seasons where he put up 800 or more receiving yards. Now that he’s the number one target and healthy, it’s not out of the question to think that he could shatter his former teammates single-season record for receiving yards.
“Our expectations are through the roof,” Gru said. “I expect him to be twice as productive as he was last year simply by managing his body at a professional level throughout the season. We also want to him to have a more physical presence with route running and run blocking. He has been spoiled by being able to run around most defenders, but against elite competition and especially in the pros, he will need to develop a level of patience and physicality with his handwork to add an element to his releases and develop even stronger body control squeezing routes and making even more contested plays than he already has. We also expect him to show how dangerous he is with the ball in his hands by giving him a chance with underneath completions and proving to us that he’s going to understand who he is and just stick his foot in the ground and hit it. With just half a season, he was as productive as the top wideouts in the country, so we are looking forward to see how much fun he is going to have with a full season.”
Roberson is a name for Green Bay Packers fans to keep tabs on throughout the college football season. Outside of Davante Adams, the Packers have no game changers at the position. With his speed and work ethic, Roberson would likely become an early favorite of Aaron Rodgers.
“His work ethic goes toe-to-toe with Proche,” Gru said. “Reggie’s personality is built for football. He never lacks confidence and his work ethic gives him an elite level of focus and determination to make big time plays.”