Illinois an emotional pick for Largo DE Bobby Roundtree
On one of the happiest days of his life, Bobby Roundtree cried.
The 6-foot-5, 220-pound Largo defensive end was down to either Indiana or Illinois. After thanking his parents and coaches, Roundtree tried to get the words out, but tears came first. As he wiped his eyes, he announced his decision through a cracking voice.
“I’ll be attending Illinois,” he said.
It was a decision he came to just hours before officially signing his letter of intent. Roundtree’s last official visit was to Indiana, where several former Largo players attend and several more from Tampa Bay have already committed. But in the end, he said Illinois coach Lovie Smith was the difference.
“This whole day I’ve been going back and forth with everything,’’ Roundtree said. “To be honest, I didn’t know where to go. I just thought that I should trust Lovie and his process to get me where I need to be.’’
Roundtree was one of the more sought after defensive ends in the area. He had 66 total tackles and seven sacks in nine games as a senior. He said temptation to follow other locals to Indiana was strong, but Illinois felt like the right place.
“I wanted to start my own trend at another school,” Roundtree said. “Maybe that school is best for them but not for me. Why not give (Illinois) a try?”
The decision was not only emotional for Roundtree, but for his family as well. His mother, Jacqueline Hearns, wasn’t sure where her son was going until he finally made his announcement.
“It’s really been a roller coaster,” Hearns, said. “Yesterday he was going to Indiana. Then last night he changed his mind. Up to this last minute he was undecided. He really went back and forth.’’
When asked if she is glad the process is over, Hearns was emphatic.
“I am,” she said. “The phone calls and the texts and the visits, it was crazy. Sometimes he had three schools come in at one time. We wouldn’t go to bed until 11 o’clock. It was crazy.”