For Jerry Roberts Jr., UMass football is a family affair

By KYLE GRABOWSKI

Staff Writer

Published: 04-20-2023 4:47 PM

AMHERST – Jerry Roberts Jr.’s family and football family converged at UMass, so he met both there.

His younger brother Jyree Roberts signed with the Minutemen during the early signing period, pledging to play for the coach that gave the elder Roberts a shot to play at the Power 5 level. Jerry, a redshirt senior, spent two seasons at Arizona after beginning his career at Bowling Green.

“It’s always a dream to play with your brother,” Jerry said. “Even though our age gap is so far it’s still your little bro.”

Reuniting with UMass head coach Don Brown made the decision simple. He appeared in nine games during Brown’s season as the Wildcats defensive coordinator in 2021 and started all 12 Arizona games last season, ranking second on the team with 78 tackles. There are seven former Wildcats populating UMass’ roster.

“I know a lot of coaches say it or a lot of players say it, but he’s really a player’s coach. He cares about what’s going on at home, life about you as your mentor. He really cares about you as a person,” Jerry said. “I found that very important to me. Being so far with my family, I want to feel like my football family is actually family.”

The brothers hail from Erie, Pennsylvania, and played at Cathedral Prep. Jyree is a three-star prospect that also drew interest from Buffalo and Penn State. He’ll arrive in the summer and receive a more in-depth education than most freshmen.

“I’ll take him under my wing and I tell him, this is my year of me trying to get to the NFL and this is your first year of college, so I’m gonna be on you. You’re gonna see what it’s like in a day in the life with someone trying to get to the NFL,” Jerry said. “Your first year as a freshman might not be the normal first year like you expect.”

Jerry knows what to expect playing in Brown’s defense. Brown’s playbook (and its success) has followed him around the country.

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“Picking up stuff, it’s a refresher,” Roberts said.

Being out of the Arizona heat brings a level of refreshment, as well. Amherst does remind Jerry of his previous stops in Tuscon, Arizona, and Bowling Green, Ohio, both traditional college towns.

“Being around that environment, people that stay invested in a football team, they want to see the football team do good. It’s amazing,” Roberts said.

Roberts has already seen the potential in UMass’ defense. The Minutemen ranked in the top 10 in passing yards allowed last season and are aiming that high across the board.

“We have the potential to be a top-10 defense as far as tackles for losses, sacks, all aspects getting after the quarterback,” he said. “We’re extremely confident in our ability to be a top-10 defense.”

Kyle Grabowski can be reached at kgrabowski@gazettenet.com. Follow him on Twitter @kylegrbwsk.]]>