Roy Roberts graduated from Tulsa in December with a degree in communications … after all the times he was told he couldn’t.

Roy Roberts graduated from Tulsa in December with a degree in communications … after all the times he was told he couldn’t.

“It feels awesome,” the Ardmore High graduate said Monday. “Tulsa was a hard school to come and get the degree from. I took a chance with Tulsa. That was probably the only school out of high school that gave me a scholarship.”

But proving people wrong seems to be his nature.

“He wants to prove things,” secondary coach Brent Graham, nephew of head coach Todd Graham, said. “(He shows) ‘Here’s who I am and what I’m about.’ Him knowing that and proving that to himself is big. He’s become a better man from it.”

According to Brent Graham, Roberts, 24, showed a 3.0 average in the classroom.

On the field, he can show you a big hit. Many remember the 5-foot-11, 205-pounder for a hard lick he planted on Bowling Green punt returner Antonio Smith during last year’s 63-7 Hurricane win in the GMAC Bowl at Mobile, Ala. A split second after Smith hauled in a punt early in the third period, Roberts knocked the helmet off the Falcon, who lay almost flat on his face for a few seconds.

“Boy, that was scary!” one of the ESPN announcers said during the live broadcast. (You can search for that clip on YouTube.)

“It was a pretty explosive hit,” Brent Graham said. “You talk about athleticism, Roy is one of the strongest defensive backs I’ve ever been around. You challenge him in the weight room, … and he’ll be about ten.”

Roberts now can focus on closing out his college football career Tuesday in the return trip to the GMAC Bowl against No. 23 Ball State (12-1) and making it to the pros.

Or just the GMAC Bowl.

“I’m looking forward to the next game,” Roberts said, not talking much about a possible pro career. “We’re going to come through. Ball State’s a pretty good team with one loss, so we’re going to come here with something to prove.”

Tulsa (10-3), like Ball State, climbed up the Top 25 earlier in the season, but stumbled after an 8-0 start with losses to Arkansas and Houston. That didn’t keep the Hurricane out of their own conference championship game, but East Carolina took the Conference USA title 27-24 at Tulsa on Dec. 6.

So, Roberts will have waited a long month to prove currently unranked Tulsa still has Top-25 muscle — and can win with defense. Tulsa has allowed 29.1 points and 391.2 yards per game this season.

“We play a lot of shootouts,” Roberts said. “We had a lot of injuries this year and people change positions.

“We’re learning, getting better each week.”

Roberts, who has 10 career interceptions, has been flexible with positions in the secondary during his career. He entered the season with the goal of becoming a better leader in the unit.

“He always seems to be at the right place at the right time,” Brent Graham said.

Like the time he returned an interception 41 yards for a touchdown in a 56-14 home win over New Mexico. That was one of three interceptions on the year for Roberts.

A big play like that could give Roberts another YouTube highlight from Mobile.

“At this point, I know he wants to finish out his senior season and have a great bowl game,” Brent Graham said.

Then, Roberts will tend to his off-season workouts in Tulsa with his strength and conditioning as he gears for a possible pro career.

That’s just not on his mind, right now.

I.C. Murrell,
(580) 221-6527