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Once doctors outfitted him with the contact lenses
Michigan receiver Roy Roundtree eyes a spot in the starting lineup
by Pete Bigelow | The Ann Arbor News
Saturday April 11, 2009
Here are the tools a wide receiver needs to succeed in Rich Rodriguez's spread offense: Speed, athleticism, quickness.
Michigan wide receiver Roy Roundtree has possessed the first three items on that list since he arrived on the Michigan campus in 2008. It wasn't until a few weeks ago that he found the fourth.
"In the first half of the spring, he was struggling catching some balls, and then we looked at him, and he'd squint at you," Rodriguez said Saturday.
"That was the first sign, 'You'd better get your eyes checked.' The doctor said he didn't know how he was walking a straight line."
Clearer vision has made for softer hands.
Once doctors outfitted him with the contact lenses, Roundtree started catching passes again and his performance improved throughout the latter half of spring practices.
Teammates noticed the improvement. On Saturday, everyone else did too. Roundtree caught two touchdown passes from freshman quarterback Tate Forcier and became one of the surprise storylines from the spring football game.
"Today was my breakout day," Roundtree said afterward, as he enjoyed the company of 30 or so friends and relatives who made the drive from Trotwood, Ohio, for the game.
"Nobody had really heard about me or anything, but coach gave me the opportunity and put me out there. I showed him what I could do."
Offensive coordinator Calvin Magee told Roundtree on Friday that play a significant amount of snaps in the spring game, and he made the most of the chance.
Roundtree broke behind the defense and caught a 50-yard touchdown pass early in the scrimmage. Later, he displayed his athleticism on a 15-yard catch in the right corner of the end zone, sprawling out for a finger-tip grab.
The performance registered with coaches. Roundtree is one of three contenders to start at slot receiver in the fall, along with Terrence Robinson and Martavious Odoms.
Rodriguez thinks Roundtree, at six-foot, 174 pounds, also has enough ability to play outside, which is where he played in high school.
"We're probably going to have him learn both inside and outside receiver," Rodriguez said. "He's a guy that's got great ball skills. ... Roy's going to be able to play a lot for us this year, I'm sure."
No matter what position he plays, it will only help that he seems to be developing a connection with Forcier, one forged in spring practices and also away from the football field.
"Tate, that's my boy," Roundtree said. "Ever since he got here, we've been real cool together, playing video games and talking smack, you know? Tate's a young guy, but he's learning real fast."
The same could be said for Roundtree.
He can't say for sure how his growth might have been impacted by his blurry vision because, although he's worn glasses in the past, he never realized how significantly his vision had deteriorated until Rodriguez sent him to an eye doctor.
Wearing his contact lenses Saturday, he may have been as proud of the fact he didn't drop any passes as he was of his two touchdowns.
"They're working real good," Roundtree said. "I'm going to catch the ball. I'm going to do whatever it takes to win."
Lon Horwedel | The Ann Arbor News
Receiver Roy Roundtree catches a touchdown pass in front of defensive back Floyd Simmons.
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