PA native, Cougars eye FSU
Published 11:24 am Thursday, December 10, 2015
Port Arthur native Elandon Roberts has made quite a name for himself in his senior year with the University of Houston Cougars.
The Cougars went 12-1 this year and won the American Athletic Conference with a 24-13 over Temple this past Saturday.
It was a typical game for Roberts, who came up with one of the game’s biggest plays.
Roberts, early in the game, forced a fumble and it set the tone against the Owls (10-3).
Roberts has had a very impressive senior season. He leads the Cougars with 132 tackles and came away with six sacks and one interception.
Not bad for a guy who had 26 tackles as a junior and seven as a sophomore. He saw limited time those two seasons playing behind Derrick Mathews, who is now a part of the Washington Redskins.
“My first year of college, I played at Morgan State,” Roberts said. “I led the nation in that division with over 100 tackles. Then, I came to UH and played behind Mathews. Sometimes you just have to be patient. I always wanted that chance to show what I could do. When you get that opportunity, you have to take full advantage of it.”
Roberts and his teammates now have a golden chance to show what the AAC champions are made of in the Peach Bowl on Dec. 31 against Florida State. The Seminoles participated in the College Football Playoff last year and won the national championship two years ago.
“We are very excited to play in that type of bowl game,” Roberts added. “It makes you realize all your hard work has paid off. We play a great Florida State team. I am anxious to be on a stage with those guys. We feel like we can compete with anyone. It is going to be a four-quarter game and will be a great atmosphere.”
Roberts graduated in 2012 from Port Arthur Memorial High School. He was a huge part of the Titans squad that in 2011 reached the state semifinals and lost 51-31 to Cibolo Steele, which went on to lose the Class 6A Division II title to Spring Dekaney, 34-14.
He was back in Port Arthur on Monday for a quick visit back home and stopped by and chatted with his high school coach, Kenny Harrison. Roberts said he sees a lot of the same qualities in Harrison he views in his Cougars coaching staff.
“Coach Harrison is a real good coach,” Roberts said. “Right now the Titans are in a rebuilding stage. I see a lot of fire in Coach Harrison. I got to talk to him a lot on Monday and you can just see the passion in his eyes. That is the type of coach you want. It is like what I see in the coaches at UH. You can never count Port Arthur Memorial out for very long.
“I really was surprised to see them go down to 5A. I know when we played North Shore my senior year, we beat those guys, so it can be done. It is not like the competition is too high for Memorial. Take a look at the athletes who come out of Memorial. When I was there, we were solid at every position. Every program goes through this and expectations are so high for the Titans.”
Roberts’ best game this year came against Memphis. He recorded 18 tackles and picked up his first career interception. He never looks at his statistics and is only concerned with the team’s results.
“I have never paid any attention to stats,” Roberts said. “I want to first make sure we get the win. Memphis was a very intense game. I knew we had to go to another level and I knew I had to personally step it up. That is about being a leader.”
Roberts’ interception of Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch started a furious comeback that saw the Cougars erase a 20-0 hole to win 35-34.
“That is what you do when your team needs a big play,” Roberts added. “The play really came to me. At the end of the day, I was just doing my job. It was a great win.”
All the wins for Houston this year started the conversation of head coach Tom Herman leaving after only one season with the Cougars. He came to UH from Ohio State, where he served as offensive coordinator under Urban Meyer since 2011. Herman signed a five-year contract worth at least $14 million.
“Coach Herman is a great coach,” Roberts said. “Who wouldn’t want that man as their coach? He made sure all that talk did not distract us as a team. We never got caught up in the rumors because he told us he would never lie to us. It was always about trusting the guy next to you and trusting your coaches. You never want to let your brothers down, including the coaches.”