Calvin Roberts is ready to answer the call.
With the Hawaii defense in need of a reliable 12th man to summon off the sidelines in a variety of situations in the defensive backfield, coach Rich Miano has turned to Roberts, a flexible cornerback, as the first man in.
"Really there's three corners that are really standing out, and he's part of that three," said Miano, referring to starters Ryan Mouton (left) and Jameel Dowling (right)."In the past we didn't have that kind of depth and quality. Calvin's a starter, it's just we can only start two of them."
Roberts has one year left to make an impact with the Warriors after transferring in from the College of San Mateo (Calif.) last season and playing in eight games as a reserve.
The learning curve was steep, and Roberts never fully caught up to incumbents Myron Newberry and Gerard Lewis in time. Fellow JC transfer Mouton, meanwhile, made himself invaluable as that reserve corner off the sidelines.
Now that Roberts has a year under his belt and is up to speed, he's primed to fill in that role Mouton flourished in.
"I feel like I got a role on the team and my job is to do the job," the 5-foot-11, 190-pound senior said. "Second team, first string, whatever it is, I feel like I gotta get my job done."
Miano is ready to slide Roberts in as the team's fifth defensive back, meaning he'll join the four starting DB's during pass-defense coverages. As for playing behind Newberry, Lewis, and Mouton last season, Roberts didn't think of it as a wasted year even when he was billed in some corners as a man to take one of the jobs outright upon arrival.
"It was a learning experience from the real good corners we had last year," Roberts said. "So, I'll learn from them, their techniques, tendencies, and stuff like that. I brought it to my game, and I think it worked out perfectly for me."
Miano appreciates the time Roberts has put in, and can empathize with him after he was handicapped by a late start to last year's fall camp after wrapping up summer school.
"I think it's extremely hard for a JC DB to come in and learn the techniques, because every coach is a little different," Miano said. "It's probably a lot more complicated than junior college in terms of both in respect to technique and how many coverages we do. It takes a while to mentally catch up to the guys who have been here for a while. Being late and being a JC guy, usually that one year they're going to learn a whole lot. They're going to excel the second year, you're going to see what you've got."
What Roberts brings is versatility. A three-sport athlete for most of his life (basketball, football, baseball) he's currently focused on football, but expressed interest in broadening his horizons after the pigskin season.
"I'm always trying to have time for batting practice and stuff like that," said Roberts, who played baseball all four years at El Camino High School and during his freshman year at San Mateo. "I'm also trying to maybe try playing baseball for UH this season, but I'm not really sure. I just always like to keep in tune, play catch if I could, keep myself sharp. I haven't got around to talking to (coach Mike Trapasso) yet."
While that would take some adjustment, he's warmed to the distant Hawaii lifestyle after attending San Mateo -- which couldn't be more different as a mere 15-minute drive away from home in San Francisco.
"(Hawaii's) a little different," Roberts said. "I don't have my old friends and my family, over here I meet my new friends, people from all over the country. I think it's a good deal for me. ... I'm glad I'm here."