It's Iowa football camp season, which usually means it's time for a handful of new commitments. First through the door: Terry Roberts, a 5'10", 170-lb. defensive back out of Erie, Pennsylvania. Roberts received an offer from the Hawkeyes during camp this weekend in Iowa City, and he committed Monday morning.
Roberts plays at Cathedral Prep, alma mater of former Iowa cornerback Jovon Johnson, and Roberts has worked in the past with both Johnson and another Pennsylvania-bred Hawkeye that you may have heard of:
“Bob Sanders is a close friend of ours,” Roberts said. “We used to train together when I was little. Also, Jovon Johnson, I've been training with him since I was 8 years old and we still workout together. Jovon taught me everything that I know about cornerback.”
Roberts' offer sheet is a bit light. He has an offer from Duquesne. That's it. And while being led by Duquesne might be the best part of the best Tenacious D song, it's not an endorsement that necessarily portends football greatness. Roberts' recruiting profile is basically nonexistent. Neither Rivals nor Scout has graded him, and 247 threw their standard three-star grade on him because shrug emoji. At least we have Hudl video.
Iowa's defensive backfield has been built on this kind of guy for almost twenty years, and Phil Parker's eye for talent in both this position and this area of the country is unparalleled. If Iowa saw him live and wanted to offer him, there's ample reason to believe he has whatever it is that the Hawkeyes want. So who gives a damn about recruiting rankings?
The more interesting long-term aspect of this commitment is that Roberts becomes the second recruit in as many years from a part of the country long thought abandoned by Iowa: Northwest Pennsylvania. The Keystone State had long been Ken O'Keefe's territory, but with KOK's departure and a string of bad results -- particularly another Erie product -- Iowa had basically abandoned its efforts. From 2013 until this February, Iowa did not sign a single player out of Pennsylvania. Obviously, if Roberts has as much contact with Johnson and Sanders as he suggests, there are plenty of trusted sources vouching for his character. But with O'Keefe back on staff, Pennsylvania could once again be fertile ground. Terry Roberts is probably going to be a Hawkeye, and I don't think he'll be the last.