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Arkansas football recruiting: Norman's Donovan Roberts holds firm, signs with Razorbacks

Norman running back Donovan Roberts made it official Wednesday morning, signing with the University of Arkansas. Roberts held firm, despite late interest from his hometown Sooners.
BY TRAVIS HANEY, Staff Writer, Modified: February 1, 2012 at 12:12 pm •  Published: February 1, 2012

“Arkansas recruited him hard out of the gate,” Nation said. “They did a great job of recruiting him. They did an awesome job. … He formed a bond with those guys up there.”

Roberts had another big year as a senior, finishing his career with 5,300 yards, 64 touchdowns and 388 total points. Nation said field vision was one of his best attributes; he said it's better, even, than a recent Arkansas star, Tulsa Washington's Felix Jones.

“He was fun to coach, but he was, I think, more fun to watch,” Nation said of Roberts. “Sometimes as a coach, you get caught up watching the players instead of watching the game. He was one.”

His high school coaches noted, too, that Roberts had matured, going from a cocky, know-it-all freshman to a player willing to learn and listen. Arkansas took note of that. It also noticed – and liked – Roberts' running style.

“They said (they recruited him) because of his ability to look for contact,” Nation said. “He does not avoid contact.”

Roberts, listed at 6 feet and 200 pounds, also strongly considered Michigan and Pittsburgh. His mother, though, said she initially felt as if Arkansas was even too far. She came around as she continued to see and learn more about the school.

Roberts actually grew up liking Oklahoma State, and that was his favorite very early in the process. Arkansas' investment in him, however, soon won him over.

“It's been a joy,” Katrice Roberts Powell said, “and we can't wait to get to the next level.”

Arkansas played in its first BCS game, the Sugar Bowl, two seasons ago. It defeated Kansas State in the Cotton Bowl this past season, though its only two losses were to Alabama and LSU, the two teams that played for the national title. The Razorbacks were ranked fifth in the final Associated Press poll.

“As soon as we get there, we'll do anything we can to contribute,” Roberts said. “Coach (Bobby) Petrino, you know, they've been there two years knocking on the door. Eventually we're going to knock the door down.”

Being in the SEC was a draw, too, for Roberts.

“That's a big stage,” he said, “probably the biggest stage in all of college football.”