Michigan receiver Roy Roundtree will be counted on to lead at position of uncertainty
Melanie Maxwell | AnnArbor.com
Instead, he caught 19 passes, the worst single-season drop off in school history.
Just don't tell that to Brady Hoke.
The Wolverines' coach was asked last week about Roundtree's "rough" season, production-wise, and the coach fired back politely -- but firmly.
"How’d he have a rough season?" Hoke countered.
"Well, he caught only 19 passes," the reporter said.
"Yeah, but he won more games, so I wouldn’t call that a rough season," Hoke said. "Neither would Roy, and that's part of why you reward a guy who has that kind of commitment to his team, because this is a team game and he’s a tremendous leader."
Roundtree, now entering his senior season, will be counted upon to lead a receiving corps that is facing several concerns.
Top receiver Junior Hemingway has graduated, and starter Darryl Stonum was kicked off the team for an offseason arrest. That leaves Roundtree and junior Jeremy Gallon as the only sure things.
The rest of the returners combine for 17 career catches.
The leading candidates for the third starting spot have zero.
Sophomore Jerald Robinson is considered the leader right now for that spot, but true freshmen Amara Darboh and Jehu Chesson also are expected to receive shots at the job in fall camp.
Practices start Monday.
Quarterback Denard Robinson said the freshmen are skilled, but need polishing if they are to see the field in the opener Sept. 1 against Alabama.
"They (are) thinking too much," Robinson said. "When they get comfortable with running routes, they're going to be good. They're going to be really good. I like watching them go get balls.
"Once you see those guys out there on the field, you'll see they can move."
Heavy on talent, light on experience. That's why Roundtree is so important to igniting a passing game that was lackluster for much of last season.
The lack of production hasn't bothered Roundtree, Hoke said, because he was able to do other things to help the offense. He is one of the receiving corps' most capable blockers, for example.
It is that commitment to team that Hoke was rewarding when he bestowed upon Roundtree the No. 21 jersey, which has been designated a Michigan Football Legend in honor of former great Desmond Howard.
Roundtree previously wore No. 12.
"He's proven himself," Hoke said. "He epitomizes the work ethic and being coachable and a leader and all those things.
"When you got a guy who leads like that and is so accountable to his teammates, (it helps us), and I think that’s what Desmond does."
Roundtree's 72-catch season came in the slot, and his 19-catch drop off came at split end. Next year, he will play the flanker position in which Hemingway thrived.
Will that mark a boost in his production?
“Well, I think we will find out," Hoke said. "I know he is long. He has got length to him. He has made some big catches. I think he does a nice job getting down the field and running routes.
"I think that is one of the things (receivers coach) Jeff Hecklinski has done a tremendous job with our group, and those teaching concepts and recognizing coverages and all of that, and so I don’t know why he couldn’t.”