Rivals250 OL Jaeden Roberts commits to Auburn
For much of the past five months, three schools have been sitting atop of Jaeden Roberts' list.
Alabama, LSU and Oklahoma State have been the favorites for the Rivals250 offensive lineman, but Auburn's surge in the Lone Star State this spring led to some fireworks as Roberts' decision date neared.
Auburn landed a commitment from Roberts, a four-star offensive guard from Galena Park (Texas) North Shore, over the likes of Alabama, LSU and Oklahoma State, a trio of schools that had hosted Roberts for on-campus visits over the past 13 months.
Roberts camped at LSU last summer and attended junior days in Stillwater, Okla., and Tuscaloosa, Ala., in January and February, respectively. Auburn offered Roberts in February -- after new offensive coordinator Chad Morris and new offensive line coach Jack Bicknell settled into their new roles in The Plains.
Under Morris' watch, the Tigers are making an even bigger push inside the Lone Star State. Auburn signed Dallas-area standouts Chris Thompson Jr. and Brandon Frazier in 2020 and recently landed a commitment from Rivals250 quarterback Dematrius Davis Jr., a one-time Virginia Tech pledge and a teammate of Roberts.
Roberts joins Davis as the only two Texans currently in Auburn's 2021 recruiting class, which entered the day with eight commitments ranked No. 23 nationally in the Rivals team rankings. Roberts is the third offensive linemen in the haul, joining Florida three-stars Caleb Johnson and Garner Langlo.
Roberts is the nation's No.5-ranked guard and a top 20 player inside the state.
IN HIS OWN WORDS
"The education at Auburn is very good to get me through my three or four years. The football is really good and I can't complain about it. It's a good coaching staff that can get me to where I want to go. I really like the community there. It's a small town and hopefully, I'll enjoy my four years up there."
"It's a really good place, a nice place, and one of the best locker room environments in the SEC. It's a really good school overall and a nice place."
"My mom and I .. we love the coaches at Auburn, how they give us really good hospitality and about the family aspect and the education. My family really likes how they're gonna be treating me when I'm not home."
"I know I'm a novice right now, but I think I can reach my full potential at this school. the offensive line coach (Jack Bicknell) is gonna bring out the best in me. They very highly ranked with offensive lineman and they're bringing in the best offensive linemen in the country often and putting them in the league. They were the best pick."
"Over this quarantine, we have been talking and we've built a really good relationship. We're very honest with each other -- no smoke -- and he's straight-up honest and he's given me his word that he will bring me to my peak if I come to Auburn. Every coach says that they will, but he (Bicknell) is really genuine and honest about it. Some people say that you have to go on your instincts and I've been around a lot of coaches and I can tell that based on his characteristics and how they speak to me and my parents and how they overall treat me that it's home up there."
"They have been really keeping in touch with me and my family (this quarantine). They just ask us if we have questions or any problems and they have spent the whole time treating my family and me very well. They're giving us the info we need through this whole thing. People need to talk to each other and they've been very good with us. It's nice seeing this school and they treated us with great hospitality."
Roberts, a massive-sized lineman originally from Kansas, was a MaxPreps Junior All-American Second-Team selection in 2019. By trade, he's an offensive guard, though Roberts opened last season out at right tackle due to injuries along North Shore's offensive front.
At 6-foot-6 and 335 pounds, Roberts possesses college-ready size and strength. He's a dominant interior blocker that can overwhelm in power with deceptive athleticism for his size. While his film certainly shows the caliber of player he is, Roberts' best football remains ahead of him as he shores up some technical aspects of his game.
Roberts began his high school career at Lenexa (Kan.) St. Thomas Aquinas before transferring to Galena Park (Texas) North Shore in the summer leading into his junior season. He helped the Mustangs capture consecutive Class 6A-Division I state championships.
Roberts boasts a big frame and is a large force to be reckoned with. He's powerful and explosive off the line and makes a habit out of driving the opposition out of way. Roberts can seal the edge, pull in the run game and is a fantastic kick-out blocker, and what makes him special is his ability to drive and finish at the point of attack.
Though he is not particularly nimble, Roberts is forceful and makes run-blocking and pass-pro appear seamless at times. He relies heavily on his overwhelming strength but will be an even better player when he improves his arm extension and hand placement while blocking. In pass pro, Roberts smothers defenders to the dirt. It's effective, but there is room for improvement.
Roberts is quicker than you'd think for a 330-plus guard. While he can effectively take a defender out of a play on any given snap, one area Roberts can improve at is taking on multiple defenders at different levels of the defense. That's something that could come with more experience.
Against quicker edge-rushers, Roberts has shown an ability to anticipate and defend different pass-rush moves. He'll need to continue to work on his feet and hand placement moving forward. He's geared to slow down bull-rushers off the edge or from the interior defensive line; very few defenders are going to match Roberts' strength.