March 16th, 2006
by Alexis Hatfield, Staff Writer
This is part four of the Collegiate Times' series looking at some of the top football recruits for 2006.
"Da-ryl ... Da-ryl ... Da-ryl!"
This is what the Hokie Nation will be chanting in seasons to come, but this time it won't be for Mr. Tapp.
Ladies and gentleman, welcome to Blacksburg, Mr. Daryl Robertson.
Standing 6'3" and weighing 285 pounds, this new Daryl will be lining up at defensive tackle for the orange and maroon.
Nearly all of the Hokie faithful remember when Tapp, the recently-graduated defensive end, would burst around the corner to make appearances on highlight tapes. Although Tapp plays a different position than Robertson, Robertson tends to emulate his game style with the same tenacity, speed and heart.
With Robertson's 5.1 40-yard dash time, he is quick on his feet, which will help him get to the quarterback faster.
"I guess my best attribute as a player is that I'm pretty fast off the ball," Robertson told rivals.com, a recruiting website. "Quickness continues to be the area I’m always working on the most."
Great athletes and coaches come in a packaged deal. Robertson's career would be impossible without the proper guidance of the Liberty High School coaching staff led by Robertson’s former head coach Christopher Watts.
Robertson is characterized by his former coach as a good leader and noted for being "coachable." Watts enforces in all of his players the importance of how football can play an effective role in one's future.
"I teach them not to just be good football players, but good people," Watts said.
He also instills other components of hard work-ethic skills, which have traveled with Robertson.
"I teach them good work ethics by getting things done in the weight room, it is hard to make it out there, so things have to get done now," Watts said.
With Watts’ guidance, Daryl ended his senior season with a total of 75 tackles, seven sacks and one blocked punt. Hokie offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring was the man in charge of noticing Daryl’s talent and signing him on July 11, 2005. Stinespring’s goal was to recruit the best talent that could easily fit in with Virginia Tech’s style of play.
"He had a lot of size, and he was able to move well. He had a good mixture of size and athletic ability," Stinespring said. "We want to see if he can physically go against a 22 year-old senior."
Other Division-I schools such as University of Maryland and Wake Forest University tried to get their hands on Robertson, but Tech beat them to the punch. Virginia Tech was Daryl’s ideal choice because of proximity.
"I chose Virginia Tech because it was close for my family and I could invite my friends to watch me play," Robertson said.
Robertson’s quickness, strength and power have helped him to be ranked amongst the best high school seniors in the nation. As a result, in his senior season, his most memorable personal experience was when he blocked a punt and picked it up to run for yardage.
"That was the first time I have ever ran with the ball," Robertson said.
He also took the role as team captain his senior year because he knew it was his responsibility to take Liberty as far as it could go — and is characterized by his former coach as being a laid-back individual.
"He is always smiling, very approachable, easy to talk to and a polite guy," Watts said. "Daryl is a very likable guy, and he comes from a good family."
Robertson’s parents, George and LyVern Robertson, are very proud of their son’s commitment and his future at Virginia Tech. They emphasize his personal modesty, and how he doesn’t like to stand out amongst the crowd, but to bring others up with him.
"He is still himself. Daryl doesn’t put himself above and we are very proud of him. He is still the same," LyVern Robertson said.
Both parents have collectively instilled the values of keeping true to himself and always remembering where he comes from. Daryl actively participates in his church as an usher for the Junior Usher Board.
"(We told him) Put God first, academics next, and everything will fall in place," LyVern Robertson said.
Robertson’s family background in sports runs deep. He continues in the family legacy of football behind his cousin, former University of Virginia defensive back, Jerton Evans.
The family sports tradition is not just limited to the male side of the family. His mother played college basketball for Saint Paul University. Considering she was a student-athlete in college, she has emphasized that while Daryl is in school he needs to focus on his academics.
"Hitting the books first, and that is what keeps you there," LyVern Robertson said. "We look highly at Tech for mandatory study hall and advisors; he needs that mentor not from just the coaches."
As Daryl’s parents have to let him go from under the wing, Daryl knows he has the support from his family, especially his parents.
"We stayed in the background, but we are there for the support," the Robertsons said.
Robertson’s charm and humble charisma has helped him be successful on and off the field, but sometimes was a concern for Watts.
"Sometimes he is too nice, which was a problem for him on the field, but he has tried to be more aggressive," Watts said.
When asked how it will feel if he was given the opportunity to take the field as a freshman, Robertson replied cautiously.
"I will definitely be nervous, but after the first hit, I will be all right," Robertson said.
Welcome to Blacksburg, Daryl.
Hokie Nation is waiting for you.