Ron Roberts | Southeastern Louisiana Univ.
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Team: Southeastern Louisiana Univ.
Organization: NCAA Football
Position: Head Coach
Hometown: Visalia, California
Organization: NCAA Football
Position: Head Coach
Hometown: Visalia, California
In just four years at the helm of the Southeastern Louisiana football program, head coach Ron Roberts has helped the Lions reach new heights.
In his first four seasons, Roberts has led the Lions to a 29-20 overall record and a 22-9 Southland Conference mark. In 2013, Roberts was named the Southland Conference, AFCA Region 5 and Louisiana Coach of the Year and was named a finalist for the Eddie Robinson Award, given to the top coach in the FCS.
The 2015 Lions were led by senior defensive back Harlan Miller, who was a finalist for the FCS Defensive Player of the Year and a Senior Bowl participant, and named All-America by STATS and the Associated Press. Miller was one of nine of Roberts’ players to earn All-Southland Conference honors. Senior offensive lineman Joe Graves was named an FCS Academic All-Star and he was joined by senior defensive back Denzel Thompson on the Southland All-Academic team.
The 2014 Lions repeated as Southland Conference champions, sharing the regular season title with Sam Houston State, who defeated SLU in the first round of the playoffs. Miller, senior linebacker Isiah Corbett and junior kick returner Xavier Roberson earned All-America honors for a Lion team that finished the season ranked 12th and 14th in the final Football Championship Subdivision polls.
The Lions placed 16 players on the 2014 All-Southland Conference teams, led by Offensive Player of the Year Bryan Bennett. Bennett was joined on the first team by Corbett, Miller, senior offensive lineman Jonathan Braddock and senior kicker Ryan Adams.
Graves and senior defensive end Jacob Newman were both named to the CoSIDA Academic All-District 6 and Southland Conference All-Academic teams. Bennett would go on to represent the Lions at the Senior Bowl and NFL Scouting Combine.
For the third straight season under Roberts, the Lions swept in-state Southland Conference opponents Northwestern State, McNeese State and Nicholls. SLU also picked up conference wins over UIW, HBU, Central Arkansas and Lamar on the way to its second straight league title.
Under Roberts, the 2013 Lions won their first-ever Southland Conference championship and their first league title of any kind since 1961. Southeastern finished with an 11-3 overall record and 7-0 mark in league play, earning its first-ever FCS playoff berth and the No. 4 national seed. The single-season school record victory total propelled the Lions to a No. 6 ranking in the final FCS Coaches and Sports Network polls.
Roberts oversaw a Lion squad that featured 24 All-Southland Conference players, including Player of the Year Bryan Bennett and Defensive Player of the Year Cqulin Hubert. Bennett, Hubert, kick returner Xavier Roberson and place kicker Seth Sebastian all earned All-America honors, while Roberson and Sebastian earned national awards at their positions from College Football Performance Awards.
Roberts’ group also excelled in the classroom, placing a league-high 46 players on the Southland Conference Commissioner’s Fall Academic Honor Roll in 2013. Sophomore offensive lineman Joe Graves was a first team CoSIDA Academic All-District 6 selection.
Southeastern opened the 2013 season 1-2 before reeling off nine straight victories to end the regular season. The highlights of the run were a 41-7 victory at No. 4/7 McNeese State and a 34-21 victory over two-time national runner-up Sam Houston State. The Lions’ victory over Nicholls State not only clinched the outright Southland title, but also completed a SLU sweep of in-state Southland rivals McNeese, Nicholls and Northwestern State for the second straight season.
In the playoffs, Southeastern earned a first round bye and faced Sam Houston State in a second round contest. With 1:21 left on the clock, the Lions took over at their own 15-yard line with no timeouts and trailing 29-24. Roberts’ squad, led by Bennett, rolled to a six-play, 85-yard game-winning drive that took just 49 seconds off the clock. Bennett, who was 6-for-6 on the “Drive to Stay Alive”, found Jeff Smiley from a yard out to give Southeastern a dramatic 30-29 victory.
Though the Lions dropped a 20-17 decision the next week to New Hampshire, Roberts had engineered a 2013 season that put Southeastern football on the map.
In his inaugural season in Hammond, Roberts guided Southeastern to a 5-6 record, which equaled the combined wins by the Lions in 2010-11. Southeastern’s 5-2 record in Southland Conference action in 2012 marked the most wins in conference play since 1978 when former coach Billy Brewer guided the Lions to a 5-1-1 mark in the Division II Gulf South Conference.
After an 0-3 start to open the 2012 season, Southeastern rallied from a 14-point deficit and helped Roberts earn his first victory in Hammond with a 25-24 win over nationally-ranked McNeese State. The excitement generated by the dramatic comeback served as a spring board for the rest of the season as the Lions won their first three games in Southland Conference play and five of their final eight contests.
Southeastern’s 5-2 mark in Southland Conference action – a four-game improvement from an identical 1-6 record in 2010 and 2011 – left the Lions one game behind co-champions Central Arkansas and Sam Houston State in the final standings. Along with its win over McNeese State, Roberts also guide the Lions to victories over Northwestern State and Nicholls State, marking the first-ever sweep of Southeastern’s in-state rivals in a season.
Named the 16th head coach in school history on December 19, 2011, Roberts brought a proven record of success to Hammond after a successful five-year tenure at Division II Delta State University.
At DSU, Roberts led the Statesmen to a 47-16 record, four 10-win seasons and two NCAA Super Region II titles that included an appearance in the 2010 NCAA Division II national championship game and the 2011 semifinals.
A native of Visalia, Calif., Roberts led DSU to an 11-3 record in 2011 and was named the AFCA Division II Region Coach of the Year. The Statesmen led the GSC and finished 12th nationally with 463.7 yards per game while ranking 21st nationally in passing offense (282.7). DSU, which was ranked No. 1 nationally in the Division II polls for much of the season, paced the GSC in seven categories including total offense, scoring offense (33.4), total defense (336.6) and rushing defense (134.1).
In 2010, the Statesmen averaged 31.9 points and 452.9 yards of total offense per game. That combination propelled the Statesmen to an 11-4 overall record and a 6-2 mark in GSC play; giving the Statesmen a share of the GSC title for the third time in four years.
During Roberts’ tenure at DSU, 23 players were named to All-America teams and two players – Michael Eubanks in 2007 and Micah Davis in 2011 – were finalists for the Harlon Hill Trophy, the Division II equivalent to the Heisman Trophy. During Roberts’ stint with the Statesmen, 64 players, including 19 in 2011, were named to the All-GSC squad.
Roberts spent two seasons as defensive coordinator at DSU under former coach Rick Rhoades before becoming the school’s 17th head coach in 2007. The Statesmen posted identical 10-2 records and claimed Gulf South Conference titles with a combined 16-0 mark in Roberts’ first two seasons as head coach.
The Statesmen concluded 2007 ranked second in the NCAA in total defense, third in rush defense, second in scoring defense and first in defensive pass efficiency.
Roberts was a two-time All-Conference selection at linebacker at the College of Sequoias in his native Visalia, Calif. He transferred to the University of Tennessee at Martin, where he helped guide them to the 1988 Gulf South Conference Championship. He graduated in 1990 from UTM with a degree in Sociology and later earned his master’s degree in Education from the University of Memphis in 1992.
Roberts is married to the former Didi Walker of Germantown, Tenn. The couple are the parents of three children; Reed, Reilly, and Ryan.