EDMOND — At an early age, Robert Charlton was determined to use his speed, even if it meant doing things the hard way.
Growing up in Birmingham, Ala., Charlton’s first sport was tee ball. He would play third base, catch ground balls and then quickly run to first base and touch the bag for the out.
There was no reason to throw with his speed.
“My mom was the coach and she kept trying to get it through to me, and I apparently wasn’t listening,” Charlton said. “I thought I’d take the easy way out.”
Now, Charlton’s speed remains his biggest asset as college recruiters have taken notice of the defensive back with offers from Northern Iowa, South Dakota and Tulsa.
He’s one of the state’s fastest players and is ranked No. 22 on The Oklahoman’s Super 30 ranking of the top recruits in the state for the Class of 2015.
“Definitely the fastest on our team,” Edmond Memorial coach Justin Merideth said.
Charlton wasn’t always the fastest runner.
He switched to track when he was 10 years old and eventually finished in the top 10 in the 100-meter dash at the Junior Olympics.
In the seventh grade, he moved to Moore, where he started to notice other runners catching up with him.
“You get frustrated when you’re not what you used to be,” Charlton said.
By the time he reached high school and moved to Edmond, he was again pulling away from other runners. As a sophomore, he finished third in Class 6A in the 100, and in May he finished second.
His game-changing speed will be huge for the Bulldogs this season as he plays a bigger role on offense as a receiver and on special teams alongside star running back Warren Wand.
“It’s exciting to know that you put the ball in those guys’ hands and they have an opportunity to make plays,” Merideth said. “I think from a defensive perspective it’s something that keeps you on your heels knowing they can make something happen at any time. It’s a big advantage, a great opportunity for us and it can make things a lot easier for your offense because you don’t necessarily always have to drive 10 or 12 plays.”
Merideth also said colleges are impressed with Charlton’s physicality at cornerback, not being afraid to make the tackle.
But speed is what has brought him recognition, and for good reason.
“Just got to keep working at it and I’m blessed,” Charlton said.