Darian Roseboro amassed 128 tackles, 26 tackles for loss and 11 sacks last season. (Michael Clark / Scout.com)
The finish line is officially in sight for one of the top targets on Michigan’s 2015 recruiting board.
Earlier this week Lincolnton (N.C.) defensive end Darian Roseboro whittled his impressive list of schools down to Alabama, Clemson, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Tennessee and Michigan. The four-star prospect is slated to choose among those programs at his school on Aug. 29. Until then the jockeying for position will surely intensify for one of the country’s more versatile linemen.
Standing 6-3 and weighing in at 293 pounds, Scout.com’s No. 24 defensive end burst onto the national scene with a dominant turn on one of the Tar Heel State’s best teams. By the time his season ended in a third-round playoff loss he had amassed 128 tackles, 26 tackles for loss, 11 sacks and seven pass breakups. A few months later he improved his stock even more at the Under Armour All American combine in Tampa, Florida.
Roseboro’s outstanding power numbers (32 reps on the bench) during the event came as no surprise, but his quickness in the one-on-one pass rushing drill definitely did. It was the key to what wound up being an unblemished record. Even more eye-opening was his weight at the time. Roseboro checked in at nearly 270 pounds, but to the naked eye appeared closer to 240. It was proof-positive that some prospects just carry weight better than others. That’s even more evident now that he tips the scale at just over 290 without losing any of his quickness.
“(Roseboro is a) versatile defensive lineman who can move around depending on the scheme,” said Scout.com South Regional manager Chad Simmons. “(He) plays with a good motor, does a sound job playing his gap, (and) can set the edge at end and be disruptive up the field. More of a power player that is very successful when playing with good pad level.”
That’s clearly a desirable blend of traits for all six of his remaining suitors. What isn’t yet clear, though, is for which of them is the feeling most mutual. Roseboro took the time to break down some of the best attributes for each school in a recent interview with Scout.com.
Alabama: “(Linebackers) coach (Kevin) Steele is recruiting me and he’s really cool,” Roseboro said. “We talk almost every week and we’ve built a good relationship. I also like their tradition.”
Clemson: “I have a really good relationship with (defensive ends) coach (Marion) Hobby. He’s a pretty cool coach and we’ve been building a relationship since my sophomore season.”
North Carolina: “I really like the fact that they were one of the first schools to offer me and I also like the fact that they are close to home.”
NC State: “I like the coaches and I also have a really good relationship with some of the players who have committed there.”
Tennessee: “They have a really good recruiting class and I like the direction that the coaches have the program headed."
And then there’s Michigan, the proximal outlier of the bunch. An April visit to Ann Arbor was largely responsible for rendering the Maize and Blue a much more viable presence in Roseboro’s recruitment.
“I like the coaching staff,” said Roseboro to Scout.com. “They’re all down to earth and I have a real good relationship with them. I also enjoyed being around the players when I visited and I like the environment.”
His connection with Michigan assistant Roy Manning served as the catalyst for his initial interest. During the visit that bond quickly expanded to also include Roseboro’s parents.
“We got along perfect,” Roseboro’s father Johnny said. “(Manning) was like someone I have known for years. We just clicked and I liked that. He didn’t try to be anybody else. They are themselves. What you see is what you get. I like that.
“I think that (another) thing that made it stand it out was meeting Coach (Hoke), meeting the coach’s wives, and the other coaches. They’re not rushing in and out -- not rushing us from here to there or kind of (trying to) sell themselves. They pretty much let themselves be sold by just acting normal toward us.”
Of the many topics of conversation, two of the most important concerned academics and position.
“They’ve got a high standard in academics, which is something as parents that we like to hear,” Mr. Roseboro said. “They emphasized the fact that Michigan is more than just football. Their goal is to make, as they say, our son into a ‘Michigan Man.’ I really like that.
“On the field they talked about using him as primarily a (defensive) end. That is the position that he would like to play. Although, he is a versatile player and he could also play inside.”
Looking back on his time in Ann Arbor the elder Roseboro is now just as high on Michigan as his son is, if not higher.
“Loved it,” Mr. Roseboro said of the visit. “I loved it! I didn’t think I would because I thought, ‘This is a big city-type place,’ but actually it is in a rural area. I like the campus and everything together. One of my favorite visits.”
However, that does not mean he will push his offspring to become a Wolverine. Instead, he will push his son to select the best fit.
“I’m looking at a program and asking, does he have the family-like environment?” said Mr. Roseboro, explaining the criteria. “The coaches -- all the people that he is up there around -- does he relate to them? Whether or not they are down-to-earth regular people like we are, that (matters) a lot. How we feel they are going to take care of our kids that we’re putting in their hands (matters) a lot.”
'Distance isn't a factor'
The verdict on which school best meets those standards won’t be finalized for another seven weeks. In the meantime, it’s already clear that the Roseboros are comfortable enough with how Michigan measures up to them to ease any concerns they may have had about proximity to home.
"Distance isn’t a factor,” said Mr. Roseboro. “This is his achievement. We’re going to back whatever he decides to do.”
Mom agreed wholeheartedly.
“Distance is not a factor,” Angela Roseboro said. “We’re going to be there regardless of where he plays. Wherever he decides to go, we’re going to be there. That’s not going to be a question. We’re looking at how the coach interacts with his players as one of the big factors. How they talk to one (another). Just kind of reading (the coach) to make sure he was genuine in what he is telling us about how he is going to treat Darian.
“Even before we ever made it to Michigan, Coach Manning -- Darian really really liked him from the get-go. That’s one of the reasons that we went to Michigan was because he really wanted to see it. Coach Manning was selling Michigan and we wanted to make sure we got up there to see what it was all about.”
They’ll see it again later this month at Michigan’s annual Barbecue at the Big House.
Whether that’ll just be one of many such opportunities over the next four to five years remains to be seen.
Sam Webb is managing editor of GoBlueWolverine.com and co-host of the "Michigan Insider" morning show weekdays on Sports Talk 1050 WTKA. His Michigan recruiting column appears weekly at detroitnews.com. For more on U-M recruiting, visit michigan.scout.com.