UH DB Roberts combines steadiness with swagger


POSTED: Wednesday, December 17, 2008

By nature, Calvin Roberts isn't one to make much of a racket.

And the fact the Hawaii cornerback has had a relatively quiet senior season means he's probably doing something right.

“;It's either going to be you do your job and nobody notices you, or you don't do your job and you're on ESPN,”; defensive backs coach Rich Miano said. “;It's one of those deals where he's been like George Ariyoshi, quiet but effective.”;

Roberts has contributed consistency to the Warriors secondary this season since locking down a starting job in the season opener against Florida.

He didn't get much playing time last season as a transfer from College of San Mateo, tallying a single tackle as a junior. Roberts was among a group of contenders for a starting job entering fall camp after the departures of Myron Newberry and Gerard Lewis.

Roberts' steady progress at a demanding position led to a spot with the first unit and he enters next week's Sheraton Hawaii Bowl against Notre Dame with 55 tackles, including 2 1/2 for losses. He has an interception and has broken up four passes.

“;Just staying consistent is really what the game is about,”; Roberts said. “;I pride myself on that, showing up every day for work.

“;All year long that was my mind-set, lock the receiver down and if they throw my way, try to make a play on the ball.”;

For a cornerback, big numbers don't always reflect effectiveness. If he's able to cover the receiver on his side of the field, chances are he won't get much action come game night.

“;He may not make one of the biggest plays, but he consistently plays very well,”; said senior Ryan Mouton, who has played cornerback, nickelback and free safety this season. “;That's all you can ask for, especially as a cornerback.

“;If a team knows that you're a technician and they know you're disciplined, they're going to stay away from you.”;

The Warriors (7-6) have faced a series of talented receivers throughout the season, and the secondary will be tested again when the Fighting Irish (6-6) visit for the bowl game. The one-on-one nature of the position is part of the allure for Roberts.

“;I've been playing football since I was 7 and it's always been competitive,”; Roberts said. “;Every day is a challenge. I take it personal, that that's my job on the field and I have to go get it.”;

Matching up with sophomore receiver Greg Salas on a daily basis in 7-on-7 and team drills has helped him prepare for those challenges and working against each other has helped both develop in their roles.

“;He knows his assignments and likes to disguise his coverages and play with you a little bit. It's hard to get a read on him,”; Salas said. “;He's physical, he's quick, and he does his job.”;

Roberts' fellow DBs do give him some ribbing over some of the noise he generates on the field (”;He makes these grunting noises,”; Mouton said.) But he isn't the type to mouth off at opponents during a game. But Miano notes Roberts has “;that swagger”; so often evident in cornerbacks, who play a position where confidence is a key.

“;Nah, he doesn't talk trash,”; Mouton said. “;I'll do some trash-talking for the rest of us.”;

Once the Warriors finish the season on Christmas Eve, Roberts will head back to the Bay Area to spend the rest of the holidays with his family, including 3-year-old daughter Layla.

He got to visit with them during some of UH's road trips, as the Warriors usually stopped in Oakland on their way back to Honolulu.

“;It's been hard,”; said Roberts, who is on track to graduate this school year. “;But I just have to stay focused and keep ballin' out and going to school.”;


Keeping connected

Last weekend's wet weather couldn't chase three junior college prospects away from the islands.

“;Your bad weather is almost as good as the nice weather here,”; said Brett Leonard, a 6-foot-5, 305-pound offensive tackle from Saddleback College (Calif.).

Leonard, cornerback Melvin Hopkins of Navarro College (Texas) and defensive tackle David Hafoka of College of San Mateo (Calif.) committed to UH after last weekend's official visits. All three plan to enroll in school next month and get a head start on next season by participating in spring practice.

Leonard and Hopkins will join JC teammates with the Warriors. Leonard, who was tutored by NFL Hall of Fame lineman Jackie Slater at Saddleback, followed defensive back Aaron Brown in committing to UH.

Hopkins will maintain his friendly practice rivalry with Navarro receiver Rodney Bradley, who committed to UH after his Thanksgiving weekend visit.

“;We like to go against each other in 1-on-1s and 7-on-7s,”; Bradley said. “;We bring out the best in each other during the week and it carries over to the game.”;

Hafoka (6-2, 310) will also have a connection to the Warriors. He played with Roberts, defensive lineman Francis Maka and offensive lineman Ray Hisatake, who served as his host over the weekend, in junior college.