Roberts’ friends with several Maryland players, not letting that distract from winning game
Published: Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, September 14, 2011 00:09
The matchup between rivals West Virginia and Maryland has always included some off-the-field connections between players.
This year will be no different, as the Mountaineers have plenty of players who grew up not far from College Park, Md.
Receiver Tavon Austin, fullback Ryan Clarke and safety Terence Garvin are just a few players who were recruited out of the Baltimore and Washington, D.C. area.
West Virginia freshman running back Vernard Roberts attended Dunbar High School in Baltimore and has had this game circled on his calendar for quite some time.
"It's exciting – this a game that I've been looking forward to since last year," Roberts said. "At the same time, it's football. You have to go out there and execute."
Roberts' family is taking advantage of the fact the Mountaineers will be playing close to home. He will have several friends and family members in attendance Saturday.
"My family has just been calling me nonstop asking me about tickets," he said. "It's going to be fun to see them and it's definitely going to give me a lot of energy."
Even though Roberts may be a little more amped for this game, he still understands that he can't let his emotions get the best of him.
"It's a home game, but I treat at it as a regular game," he said. "You can't look at the outside stuff because at the end of the day, you've got to play football."
The Washington native was heavily recruited by the Terrapins. So, why did he decide to come to Morgantown?
"I just really wasn't that interested in the school," Roberts said. "West Virginia was on my radar, and this was where I wanted to go."
Growing up only a half hour from University of Maryland, it is only natural Roberts is acquainted with some members of the Terrapins' football team.
"I know a couple of guys – I have a friend on the team," he said. "Number 52, Darin Drakeford, I played against him in high school. It's going to be fun playing against him."
Maryland nose tackle A.J. Francis is also a friend of Roberts. In fact, Francis sent Roberts a message on Twitter about the upcoming game.
"@V_Roberts9: …until 4pm Saturday y'all the enemy lol."
But, Roberts doesn't pay much attention to the friendly teasing.
"It's all fun and games," he said. "I don't get into it that much, we have a goal in mind and that is to win. I really didn't say too much back; we're just going to show them on the field."
As far as the game itself, Roberts and his teammates are going into a hostile environment against an undefeated football team. It will also be the first time this year the Mountaineers have faced an
opponent from a BCS conference.
"Maryland's a great team. They're fast, strong and they've got great looking athletes," Roberts said. "The rivalry is definitely going to be fun and I'm looking forward to it."