Name: Demetris Robertson
Position: Wide Receiver
It’s not too often a former high school running back can convert to wide receiver and find success on day one at the collegiate level. However, that’s exactly what Demetris Robertson did just last year for California. Robertson has a chance to become one of the most dynamic game-changing playmakers in the country in 2017. It’s time to get excited.
As a Recruit
Just like some of the other top offensive recruits, Demetris Robertson’s raw athletic ability was simply too great to ignore. He started out playing defensive back and wide receiver in high school. He then added running back to his resume because he deserved to have the ball in his hands every play. By the time 247Sports finished their 2017 rankings for top college football recruits, Demetris was the top wide receiver in the nation. He didn’t boast the stereotypical WR1 size that many of the top wide receiver recruits generally do, but his mix of athleticism and diverse positional skills made him an absolutely tantalizing prospect coming in as a freshman at California.
Most true freshman just simply don’t come in and put up crazy stats. In fact, only four true freshman wide receivers really did much of anything last year, and he was one of them (Ahmmon Richards, N’Keal Harry, and Bryan Edwards were the other three). Usually freshman wide receivers simply aren’t ready to learn a college playbook, run the necessary routes and compete physically with Division I talent. Demetris was just way ahead of the curve and it showed up with fantastic numbers.
2017 could bring a significantly greater opportunity for Robertson. Chad Hansen and Bug Rivera are both gone now – that’s 133 receptions that just potentially opened up to be had this year. Former Cal quarterback Davis Webb’s departure to the NFL may hurt the offense as a whole, but Robertson should be leaned upon heavily this year to carry California. Their defense is always putrid, leaving the offense playing catch-up for three quarters per game.
Robertson has the potential to have the best mix of recruiting pedigree, production, and athletic profile of any 2019 draft eligible wide receiver in college football. Still, let’s see what could make or break him on his quest for college and (eventually) NFL stardom.
On the Field – Strengths
Robertson does a variety of things well for a wide receiver with only one collegiate season under his belt.
The first thing that pops out is his elite level quickness. Demetris bursts out of his breaks. He easily sprints past or jukes around defenders with the ball in his hands. It doesn’t matter if he starts from a standstill or is hit in the chest over the middle. The mental and physical quickness pops with Robertson.
He also boasts some of the best deep passing game skills out there. There weren’t a ton of plays that he pushed deep in 2016, but he found himself wide open whenever he did. He presents such a threat on in-breaking routes that it often just took one hard step to set up a nice deep catch. However, even if he didn’t create crazy separation, he finished well in many contested situations.
Last but not least, he has fantastic awareness for his age. His reads against zone coverage are fantastic. He always seems to find the right hole to create separation as well. If the defense throws man coverage, he will set up his man using inside or outside leverages against defensive backs incredibly well. The most important aspect of his awareness possibly shows up with his footwork and ball skills at the catch point. Demetris’ highlight reel puts on a toe-tapping and body positioning clinic on the sidelines and in the end zone.
On the Field – Weaknesses
Usually with freshman it’s fairly easy to find glaring weaknesses. There aren’t many with Demetris Robertson.
He definitely needs to grow as a route runner. He can run a simple route tree right now, but can rely too much on his raw athleticism and awareness to create separation – that’s great, but if he wants to really become a game-changer on Sundays he’ll need to sharpen up just about every route that he runs. Obviously it’s a bit difficult for a player that primarily played running back his senior year of high school to come in and perfect the route tree. However, that’s why there is so much to get excited about with Demetris. If he actually figures out the intricacies of the position, he has potential to be drafted in round one of a future NFL Draft.
Besides routes, he needs to be a bit more physical in the short and intermediate areas of the field. On crossing routes and in tight coverage he can get bumped off of his intended route. Part of that just comes with him being a little undersized. Part of it is on him, though. If he learns to leverage (or even inflict) contact to help him win on every down he could very well eclipse 80 or 90 catches in a season.
Demetris Robertson has begun his journey towards NFL stardom. He has the pedigree. He’s already gathered some stats in year one. If he polishes his route running, the sky is the limit. Expect to see two 80-catch seasons and an early departure for the NFL Draft. This might be the cheapest Demetris Robertson will ever be in devy or dynasty leagues – go get him and enjoy watching him dominate.
As always, find me on Twitter @FF_TravisM to become best friends and talk football all day. Enjoy some Demetris Robertson highlights for the road.