Michigan WR Roundtree Bounces Back From Slow Start
LARRY LAGE,AP Sports Writer
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — Roy Roundtree refused to get discouraged about his slow start this season.
The Michigan receiver insisted he wasn’t worried about it and said his time would come.
It looks as if he was right.
Roundtree has 203 yards receiving in his last two games to surpass his production from the first eight games of the year.
He leaped to tip and catch a 53-yard pass Saturday that set a field goal with 2 seconds left to extend a game the Wolverines won 38-31 in overtime over Northwestern.
“That play was for Michigan,” Roundtree said
The 23rd-ranked Wolverines (7-3, 5-1 Big Ten) hope the fifth-year senior can help them finish the regular season with wins Saturday at home against Iowa (4-6, 2-4) and the next week at Ohio State, which is currently ranked No. 6 and undefeated.
Roundtree finished with 139 yards receiving — the second highest total of his career — and a season-high five receptions against Northwestern. With 2,102 career yards receiving, he moved past former Wolverines receiver Derrick Alexander and into 12th place on the school’s all-time list.
“Everyone knows what I can do,” Roundtree said.
Early in his career, everyone saw him do a lot.
Roundtree, who was in Rich Rodriguez’s first recruiting class at Michigan, redshirted as a freshman during the 2008 season. He led the Wolverines in receiving in 2009 and 2010 by flourishing in Rodriguez’s spread offense.
The slender, 6-foot, 180-pound receiver slipped statistically last season with just 19 receptions for 355 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winning score with 2 seconds left to beat Notre Dame.
He didn’t do much this season — making no more than three catches for no more than 33 yards — until Devin Gardner began starting in place of injured Denard Robinson against Minnesota and Northwestern.
Roundtree had 64 yards receiving in a win over the Golden Gophers and made some big plays in a comeback win against the Wildcats.
No play was bigger than the one he made to make the latest victory possible, catching Gardner’s heave that put the Wolverines in a position to kick an overtime-forcing field goal.
“We practiced that exact play in practice and it worked,” Gardner said. “Obviously, didn’t tip the ball to himself.”
Roundtree didn’t get down on himself early in the season when questions were asked about his lack of production. He kept smiling and sounding upbeat in public and behind closed doors, earning even more respect from his teammates.
“It felt great, seeing the young guys come up to me and say, ‘Man, you always stay positive and show leadership on this team,'” Roundtree said.
Roundtree was expected to do more than just lead by example, though, when he became the first player to wear a jersey with a Michigan Legends patch, honoring Desmond Howard, last season.
Saying he felt honored and motivated while working out last summer, Roundtree vowed that he wasn’t going to let Howard down while wearing his No. 21 jersey this year.
Soon after Roundtree made the pivotal catch in Saturday’s win, Howard posted a message on his Twitter account: “A GREAT play by (hash)Roundtree. (hash)neverquit.”
Roundtree said he hasn’t been weighed down by expectations while wearing Howard’s number, saying he knew what he was getting into when he left Trotwood, Ohio, to play for college football’s winningest program.
“When I signed, I already knew there was going to be pressure,” Roundtree said.
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