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Bulldogs' Roberts stays on sidelines // Standout linebacker decides not to sign

While most of the area's top high school football players were busysigning national letters of intent on Wednesday, Zephyrhills' Reggie Roberts sat it out.

Roberts - a Class 3A all-state selection and the Times' Suncoast Player of the Year - didn't sign a national letter. Rather than choosing a school, Roberts just prepared for basketball practice.

During the football season, Roberts - a 6-foot-3, 205-pound linebacker - received interest from several schools, including the University of Florida, Florida State, Louisville and Clemson. But Roberts' rangy, lanky 205-pound frame may have frightened some colleges off.

For example, FSU recently changed its offer from a full scholarship and asked Roberts to try out as walk-on next season.

In turn, Roberts' attitude toward larger schools has changed.

"I want to look back in a couple of days," Roberts said, "and then make a decision. I think I want to go to a smaller school and play football and get my degree."

Roberts, meanwhile, has met the NCAA's academic requirements for incoming freshman student-athletes (a 2.0 grade point average and minimum scores of 700 on the Scholastic Aptitude Test or 15 on the American College Test): he scored 740 on the SAT, 16 on the ACT and currently holds a 3.2 GPA.

Last season, Roberts - a two-way starter who also played tight end- led the Bulldogs in receptions, tackles, and fumble recoveries.

Roberts also played an integral part in Zephyrhills' first Class 3A, District 4 football title.

Although several schools - including FSU - have backed off from Roberts, Louisville and Northeast Louisiana are among the NCAA Division I-A schools that are still interested. Florida A&M, Alabama State and Albany State also remain interested in Roberts.

FAMU coach Ken Riley said he has interest in Roberts, "but it will depend on numbers now."

Zephyrhills coach Tom Fisher believes that an abundance of linebackers in Florida high schools has also affected Roberts' chances with in-state schools.

"There are lots of linebackers who are heavily recruited," Fisher said, "and they're (NCAA Division I-A colleges) going for people who already have the weight and the size.

"It seems like they're not taking in consideration what the kid's attitude is and how much potential he has. There are so many people to choose from."