Sizing up Roberson’s chances in the Mountain Athletic Conference?
Second-year coach Chris Deal likes where the football team stands in terms of its line – he expects the Rams to average about 280-285 pounds at each spot.
And there is some Division I-caliber talent there, too.
Rising senior Cameron Parker was recently named the most valuable player of a 300-man football camp at Liberty and walked away with a scholarship offer from the Flames. And rising junior Dayquan Watkins has piqued the interest of major college programs and was an All-MAC blocker in 2014.
Watkins is the younger brother of SeQuoia Watkins, a five-time state champion in track who graduated from Roberson in 2011. She is now an All-American thrower for N.C. State.
Neil Gustafson was an All-MAC and All-WNC lineman in 2014.
Fellow rising senior Nate Higgins is the center and “the glue,” according to Deal. He went down with a season-ending knee injury before the Rams (5-7) ever started the MAC portion of their schedule in 2014.
Who will those linemen be protecting?
Deal was hesitant to name a starter at quarterback on Wednesday, but rising seniors Chris Barnwell (229 yards and four touchdowns with nine interceptions) and Darrion Payne (671 yards and one touchdown with six interceptions) both saw time in 2014.
Former All-MAC running back Kameron Gilliand (892 yards, 11 touchdowns) is currently not part of team activities and the rising senior’s status for the season is unclear.
Some of the team’s top returning tacklers are former All-MAC linebacker Seth Griswold (10.5 per game in 2014), who is a rising junior, Robert Balcom (6.6), Watkins (5.0), Gilbert Whiteside (5.0) and Logan Wells (4.3).
In all, the Rams easily have the most returning starters in the MAC (19), with 11 on offense and eight on defense.