Staff Photo: Jason Braverman
Greater Atlanta Christian's Chase Roberts
As they speed, or sometimes crawl, through Atlanta’s downtown connector many drivers don’t give more than a casual glance at the Georgia Tech landmarks that line Interstate 75/85.
From the large sign trumpeting the campus to Alexander Memorial Coliseum, situated next to the old O’Keefe Gym, to the line of buildings that stretch from there to the outline of Bobby Dodd Stadium at historic Grant Field.
As Chase Roberts makes that drive, he appreciates those landmarks more than most. They make him feel at home.
The Roberts File
Who: Chase Roberts
Position: Offensive tackle
College choice: Georgia Tech
Place of birth: Atlanta
Role model: My dad Scott
Favorite restaurant: Fogo de Chao
Favorite store: Nike Outlet
Favorite teacher: Tami Miller
Favorite subject: Social studies
Text messages I send in a month: 1,000
Number of Facebook friends: 1,100
Superstitions: I always drink a gallon of water before a game
Funniest teammate: Tate Cooksey
Life’s dream: I’ve always wanted to be a lawyer since I was little
Info file: Roberts is entering his fourth season as GAC’s starting left tackle, earning a reputation as one of the area’s best run blockers. He’ll take those skills to Georgia Tech’s run-heavy offense next year. He’s also as nimble as he is strong, playing the past three seasons on GAC’s state playoff tennis team.
Coach Tim Cokely’s take: “I think everybody would agree that he’s the team spokesman. He’s on the mock trial team here. Any time the team wants to negotiate with me on anything, they send him. He is the advocate for the team. That’s for sure.”
It’s where the Greater Atlanta Christian senior spent hours upon hours during his childhood, tailgating by the coliseum in his youth jersey and walking over to the stadium for football games. For as far as he can remember, he longed to be a Yellow Jacket like his Tech-educated dad.
Georgia Tech football coach Paul Johnson and his staff made that a reality earlier this year when they offered the standout lineman a scholarship. As expected, it didn’t take Roberts long to accept.
“I did dream about playing for Tech as a kid,” the Daily Post Super Six selection said. “As you get older, you think about a bunch of stuff. You consider a bunch of options. I think it’s cool that I could dream about something like that when I was real young and then come back to it when I was older.
“It was absolutely surreal. Being on the field, at a practice, and just to have that feeling of making it. If you play high school football, your dream is to be a Division I player. I kind of got the double whammy there, being able to play D-I and being able to play for a school I’ve always really, really loved.”
That dream slowly gathered momentum over the years as Roberts grew into what he is now — a 6-foot-3, 285-pound blocker who the Tech coaches feel can be a tackle, guard or center in their spread option offense.
At GAC, Roberts has been firmly entrenched at tackle since he joined the varsity team as a 6-1, 250-pound freshman. He started immediately and held the spot down for the past three seasons, missing only a handful of games his sophomore year with a broken foot.
He endured a few down seasons in the win-loss column, but played a big role in the program’s resurgence last season.
“(Chase) is quick off the ball and he’s a powerful run blocker,” GAC head coach Tim Cokely said. “He’s the best run blocker I’ve ever been associated with as far as moving people.”
In addition to his run-blocking skills, Roberts also has impressive footwork, developed over years of playing junior tennis. He has played the past three seasons on GAC tennis teams that made the state playoffs.
He cuts weight down to 265 for tennis in the spring (though he doesn’t plan on it next spring to prepare for college football), but uses the next few months to bulk back up for what he does best.
“I love just coming off the ball hard,” he said. “There’s nothing more lineman-like than firing off the ball and going head-to-head. You can just look at the guy across from you and say, ‘It’s either me or you and I’ve got this one.’”
While Roberts is eager to use those skills in college football, the athletic angle is only part of the reason why he loves the Yellow Jackets. He admittedly doesn’t have the passion for math it takes to be an engineer, but he has researched the public policy school in great detail. He feels it’s the perfect launching pad for his goal of law school.
Like Tech football, law school has always been a dream for Roberts, who maintains a 3.8 GPA at GAC, where he has gone since kindergarten. He speaks of the Norcross private school’s mock trial program like he does football, eagerly awaiting the next big game, or in this case, trial.
“I’ve always wanted to be a lawyer,” Roberts said. “For some reason, I don’t know why, I just stuck with it. I’m really good at arguing. My mom can tell you that.”
He’s also really good at football, which is how these dreams starting materializing for the lifelong Yellow Jacket.
“To be able to (go to Tech), I know I’ve said this word a thousand times, but it’s just surreal,” Roberts said. “It’s so surreal. It really is a dream come true for me.”