Photo: Roswell QB Robbie Roper; Credit: HUDL
When Nick Evers decommitted from Florida two weeks ago, Billy Napier was offered another challenge: Finding his first quarterback recruit as the Gators’ new head coach.
He didn’t have enough time to identify his future signal-caller before the early signing period, which kicked off a week after Evers backed off his pledge. Instead, he’s taking a long and thorough look at the remaining passers on the board with the intention of signing a quarterback on February’s National Signing Day.
One of the quarterbacks remaining on the market hails from Roswell (Ga.), an underrated 2022 passer whose recruitment is just beginning to take off: Robbie Roper.
“It’s definitely been crazy. I mean the first game of the season, I think I put up 450 [yards] passing and about 70 on the ground, so I knew what season it could end up being,” Roper told AllGators on Sunday. “Lately it’s just been crazy. I know it’s a little late in the game, but there’s still a lot of schools that have been very interested and Florida has definitely been one of them.”
UF has yet to send Roper a scholarship offer, in fact, the program hasn’t offered any quarterbacks since Napier was hired in late November. However, Napier and quarterbacks analyst Ryan O’Hara first reached out to Roper within two days of joining the university and have been in steady contact with the prospect since.
“Right when [O’Hara] got in we talked. He really liked my film, he sent me a couple of things he wanted to see from me on tape,” Roper said. “He really just emphasized that it’s going to be a slow process for the quarterbacks because, I mean, it’s the first quarterback class they’re taking so they want to really make sure they get a guy that fits their system and can definitely contribute in the next couple of years.”
Napier and Roper had not spoken over the phone or in-person by press time, but the head coach extended his phone number to his first quarterback recruit this past weekend with the intention of chatting in the near future.
Roper completed a workout tape for O’Hara the same day the coach requested it, training until midnight at the Carrollton High School practice facility in Georgia to ensure he put together his best work. O’Hara offered some feedback and pointers in return, leaving a good impression on Roper and helping the quarterback realize that he would enjoy being coached by O’Hara at the next level.
Roper has also communicated with Florida linebacker Chief Borders regularly about Napier and his staff, as Borders is a fellow Georgia product and his father is Roper’s recruiting coordinator.
“Me and Chief got on the phone, we talk almost weekly and he really believes in coach Napier,” Roper said. “[Chief] believes coach Napier is a must-win coach and really thinks that he’ll turn it around in the next few years.”
Following a breakout season in his second year as a starter, in which the 6-foot-4, 215 pound QB threw for over 3,000 yards, 37 touchdowns and seven interceptions against Georgia’s 7A level talent, Roper has drawn interest from colleges across the map including Ole Miss, Pittsburgh, Connecticut, TCU, Michigan, North Carolina and Massachusetts. UMass head coach Don Brown recently extended Roper a scholarship offer.
Roper is expecting an in-home visit with the Ole Miss and UConn coaching staffs in the future, and he’d like to take a trip to Florida in January.
Despite his production, Roper is a self-described “late bloomer” who believes he’s an underrated quarterback recruit in the class of 2022. A big fan of former Florida quarterback Kyle Trask, a two-star recruit in high school, Roper believes he’s similarly an underrated prospect who has a chance to blossom with the right program.
“I mean, week in and week out, I play players like [Milton, Ga.’s] Lebbeus Overton, the number one 2023 defensive lineman in the country. So I mean, week in and week out I’m playing the top players and the numbers I put up this year, I mean, I think they really just speak for themselves.
“That’s what I’ve really just focused on throughout the year. It gives you some hope at the end of the tunnel, seeing what a guy like Kyle Trask went through and he’s been in the same spot I am … But I definitely want to make it my own path.”
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