Tigers’ anchor Roberts signs with Austin Peay

Friday, December 22, 2017
Marshall County’s David Roberts is flanked by Joetta Roberts and Mike Tibbs as he signs his Letter of Intent to play football at Austin Peay University. In the back row are, Colby Roberts, Mark Roberts, Curtis Tibbs, Kathy Tibbs, Krissy Roberts, Coty Roberts, and MCHS head coach Thomas Osteen.
Tribune photos by Anthony S. Puca

Marshall County High School continued the stream of football players signing with major university programs when Tigers’ offensive line anchor Dave Roberts signed a Letter of Intent with Austin Peay University on early signing day Wednesday.

“This feels great, since I’ve been little I’ve dreamed of this day,” Roberts said. “I hear all the people say, do the job that you love, so now I get a chance to do the job I love.”

The most famous Tiger of course is New England Patriot linebacker Dont’a Hightower, a two-time national champion at Alabama and two-time Super Bowl winner with the Pats.

Other former Tigers at major schools are redshirt freshmen Jay Howard (The Citadel) and Cain McWilliams (MTSU), Aaron Medley (UT), and Cornell junior running back Chris Walker.

“Hopefully that speaks to our program and what we have going on at our school,” MCHS head coach Thomas Osteen stated. “We are playing an elite brand of football and hopefully just making future generations of Tigers believe that they can accomplish all their dreams right here in Lewisburg.”

Walker is a first-team All-Ivy League selection, finishing second in the Ivy League in rushing yards (655) and rushing yards per game (72.8) and was third in all-purpose yardage (106.4).

“Watching those guys gives me a lot of drive because we come from a small town,” Roberts said. “Everybody looks down on a small town because they don’t think we are good enough, but I think we are 10 times better than people from bigger towns or bigger schools because it’s always in your heart really.”

The 6’4, 260 pound workhorse Roberts was also named to the Tennessee Sports Writers Association’s all-state squad on Wednesday along with running back Kamron Liggett and defensive end Tavi McLean.

Roberts was a three-year starter for the Tigers and was a freshman under head coach Thomas Osteen.

“I could not be more proud of Dave in his four years as a Tiger,” Osteen said. “He has worked like crazy for four years to be a Division I football player and you could see him getting better every year.”

“He became a dominant force on the offensive, it’s as simple as that. When we had to get any tough yardage, we ran right, behind Dave.”

In Osteen’s four years as the head coach, the Tigers are 42-11 with three consecutive region titles, along with three straight state semifinal appearances.

Dave Roberts (77) heads to the second level to take out a Tullahoma linebacker in the Tigers’ 42-35 win over the Wildcats.

“I remember the freshman year when all the freshmen walked in and he (Osteen) looked at us and sat us down and said this is my plan and this is what we are going to do and we believed it,” Roberts stated. “In that first year we got close to it and ever since then we crossed that boundary where we went to state, so I think he is the best coach that ever came through here.”

None of that could be accomplished without a great offensive line in Lewisburg.

“If you don’t have a great offensive line you can’t stop the other team from hitting somebody,” Roberts said. “We are pretty much the heart of the offense and we don’t get talked about on the radio or in the newspaper, but we are fine with that.”

“If the quarterback had a good game it means we had a good game and if the running back has a good game that means we had a good game.”

Roberts, along with 11 other high school prospects signed with the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) Governors in the early signing period.

“I can’t say how excited I am for Dave,” Osteen said. “Austin Peay two or three years ago was looked at as one of the worst programs in college football, now under coach Healy they are one of the hottest programs in college football.”

Austin Peay head coach Will Healy, in his second year at the helm of the Govs has turned a dismal program around at Clarksville, posted an 8-4 record in 2017 and a second place finish in the Ohio Valley Conference (OVC).

Before Healy’s arrival in 2016, Austin Peay won a measly 14 games in eight years and the 8-4 record last year was the first winning season for the Governors since 2007 when they went 7-4.

Austin Peay’s lone OVC title came in 1977.

The university has also undergone a $16.9 million renovation to Fortera Stadium that re-opened in 2014 following the completion of the project.

The once Municipal Stadium hosted its first football game in 1946 and the Govs have been playing football since 1930 when they beat the Bell Independents 12-0 in their first game.

Roberts, who sported a solid 2.9 GPA at MCHS plans to major in agricultural business.