Confidence Man

By Sarah on April 18, 2013 at 11:30a

"I'm not the greatest; I'm the double greatest. Not only do I knock 'em out, I pick the round."

During his boxing career, Muhammad Ali was never shy about his ability to dominate his competition. Among athletes, he's hardly alone in flaunting such bravado. Just take a look at Kobe Bryant's Twitter account, where a recent tweet used some variation of the word "dominate" six times1 — and he's currently on crutches.

Someone should get a Rudy-like "Ro-by!" chant started one of these days.Roby's #1 and he'll let you know it 

Even the humble ones who are quick to praise their teammates, God, or their country, and the ones who could do without the constant attention from media and fans, are confident enough when the stakes are high to throw a game-winning touchdown pass or hit a game-winning shot.

To a certain degree, sports fans will forgive, perhaps delight in, that kind of self-assured swagger, so long as the athletes back it up on the field, court, ring, or other corresponding playing surface. When Devin Gardner compared himself to Colin Kaepernick, the 49ers quarterback who led his team to a Super Bowl appearance, the collective reaction was, "slow your roll, kid." Sure, they were both surprising starters in the second half of last season, but Gardner's 3-2 record under center for Michigan is just one of many reasons he's not so much as Kaepernick Lite, especially at this point in his collegiate career.

To my knowledge, Bradley Roby hasn't likened himself to, say, Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman, and yet, it wouldn't surprise me if he had. But Roby could get away with it, even if, like Gardner's claim, it would have been hyperbole. 

A three-star recruit who originally committed as a wide receiver to SEC-in-name-only Vanderbilt, Roby could have entered the NFL Draft taking place next week and probably would have been the first Buckeye off the board. Instead, the Thorpe Award semifinalist — and a front-runner for the same award this coming season — opted to return to Ohio State for his redshirt junior year.

Not only does he want a national championship, but he also knows he has room for improvement. As he said recently, "I told a guy a long time ago that I was going to be one of the best corners to ever play here, and I don't feel like I've accomplished that yet."

Even the athletes with otherworldly skills realize that they can always get better. 

Still, Roby has never had a problem toting his ability. Though he didn't play in the spring game — as a precaution, according to Kerry Coombs — he matter-of-factly told BTN, "As the best player, I'm going to have to be the best leader."

He's not wrong with that assessment — the only defender who could challenge him for that title is Ryan Shazier — and has an ESPN first-team All-American selection, along with AP and Walter Camp second-team honors, to support him. As such, it's his duty to provide guidance for the younger players, just like Malcolm Jenkins and Shawn Springs had done for him in previous offseasons. 

The first time Roby really showed off his boldness was during his redshirt freshman season in 2011. A few days before a trip to Champaign, Roby described Illinois wide receiver A.J. Jenkins as "decent, but he's nothing special really." Two weeks prior, Jenkins set a school record with 12 catches for 268 yards, including three touchdowns. The following week, he slacked a little with only 182 yards on six catches, along with two scores. 

So it seemed nervy of a first-year player to call out the opposition like that, particularly one coming off two mighty impressive performances2 and who would become a first-round draft pick after the season. 

However, it was Roby who emerged from the showdown as the victor, and not just on the scoreboard. Despite Jenkins having, in fact, a "decent" day — 8 catches for 80 yards — the senior wasn't spectacular and more importantly, Roby kept him out of the end zone. And in a game where big plays were scarce and points were scarcer, it was Roby who came through with a key interception that set up an Ohio State touchdown in the second half. 

As long as there's no Shyamalanian twist involved at the end of this seasonRoby's got chutzpah or possibly a sixth sense

The 6-7 season wasn't much fun for Ohio State fans, but the promise of a better tomorrow was evident in young guys like Roby, who ended 2011 with three interceptions, 47 tackles, and the team's First-Year Defensive Player Award.

Raising expectations even higher for his sophomore season, Roby campaigned to switch his jersey from No. 25 to No 1. First, though, he had to convince new coach Urban Meyer that he was worthy. After proving to be in practice, Meyer signed off on the new number3, and Roby was ready to show who was No. 1.

Over 11 games — he missed the UAB game due injury — Roby tallied 19 passes defended, his 1.73 average being tops in the nation. Most of those came in the early part of the season; by November, quarterbacks avoided throwing his way because when they did, this tended to be the result.

He only had two interceptions all season, and both came against Nebraska. Remarkably, though, he predicted earlier that week what would happen.

Frustrated that he had zero picks during the first month of the season while his teammates in the secondary had been more successful in that regard, Roby vowed to grab his first interception of 2012. In fact, both he and his father dreamt that he'd get a pick-six that Saturday night. Sure enough, a Taylor Martinez mistake turned into a 41-yard Roby touchdown.

In October, Roby tweeted that he would never lose to Michigan again. The morning of The Game, he also took to Twitter to proclaim they were about to go 12-0, and he started talking trash to the Wolverines before kickoff. In the end, his boasts were validated once again, but he wasn't finished:

And when Alabama won their third national championship in four years, he wasn't impressed, guaranteeing that an SEC team wouldn't take home the 2013 title. Whether or not he's simply extremely confident or possesses The Shining, by returning for another year Roby will get a chance to put his money, figuratively speaking, where his mouth is. 

The crystal ball trophy isn't his only goal, of course. Most college football players dream of winning the Heisman one day and Roby is no different, even declaring, "I believe I can win it" before acknowledging that Braxton Miller is the most likely candidate on Ohio State's team. So instead, he's focused on the Thorpe Award and Bednarik Award.

"I feel like I'm getting ready for the best year I've ever had," he said last month. "I feel like this year is going to be amazing."

Given what we've seen from him so far, Roby can be counted on to back up those statements on the field.

  • 1 He probably would have used it more if characters weren't such a precious commodity on Twitter.
  • 2 Granted, they were against Northwestern and Indiana's sieve-like secondaries.
  • 3 Roby, however, wasn't able to persuade Urban to let him play a little wide receiver last season, too.

Comments Show All Comments

slicksickle's picture

I've heard more than once that CB's need to have that swag. Roby definitely has it. He's got the cohones to go with the swag. I hope he has a banner year this year.

Hovenaut's picture

Sure have been blessed with some talented DB's to don the S&G. Roby might be the brashest of them all, but he backs it up.

His coming back is huge for the defense.

German Buckeye's picture

My opinion only: I personally like players that let actions speak for themselves.  I know everyone thinks the Muhummad Ali's and Deon Sanders'of the world, the crazy antics in the end zone that we see, etc, are simply players expressing themselves, I simply don't prefer it.  I gravitate toward a humble, articulate, work ethic, professional approach to athletes - especially those in TEAM sports.  Don't really care if the individual backs up his/her mouth with the play.  This is comparable to my dislike of Twitter, I'm old and not necessarily attuned to the generation now. 

Dougger's picture

Love it. The links provided are stellar - I fully look forward to quite a few more YouTube clips from #1 this fall. His morning tweet before the TTUN game can be defined in one word....balls.
So jacked to watch this defense play... FOOTBALL GET HERE FASTER

I like football

bodast67's picture

Until he stumbles(which i hope never happens) I have to believe in the young man as he believes in himself. Stories like this make me too excited for this season. I think magic is about to happen !




     " I hope when I die, I die laughing"...                

cal3713's picture

I feel like this article should have also highlighted how good he is at run support.  One of the best I've seen.  He certainly tackles harder than any corner I've watched regularly.  That's a real boon when you're a lock down corner that doesn't get thrown at a lot... allows him to contribute both in visible and non-visible ways.

OSUBias's picture

He does set the edge well. Not quite Antoine Winfield in terms of run support, but he's pretty close. And better in coverage.

7 yards and a cloud of dust is a beautiful thing

Larryp713's picture

I love CBs with swagger... probably the one position where being cocky is an advantage, but you must back it up. I could tell Roby had all the makings to be a shutdown corner in college, and I think he is showing the work ethic and maturity to develop into a great CB in the pros as well. We are definitely blessed to have him back, and if he stays healthy, he will help the Silver Bullets play dominating defense this year. The ability to take out the opposition's best receiver is huge.



AGL's picture

walk the talk and then we will know.


Gametime's picture

Urban has created a perfect storm with this secondary & the defensive line & I LOVE IT. You have an offense that's already tough & dynamic in the power aspect running that rock, now in the summer another infusion of juice comes in with the likes of Clark, Wilson, Marshall, Elliott, & Smith. 
You have an offense that wants to score 50+ a game, a defensive line that will be able to pin their ears back & swarm the opposing QBs, & ball hawks EVERYWHERE in the secondary.
I think Roby is right in that this will be our year, and I think it will be an SEC team we face, but not Alabama - and I think it'll be OSU with future Heisman winner Braxton Miller against last year's Heisman winner Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M!

Between goals and achievement is discipline and consistency. That fire you have inside to do whatever you love is placed there by God. Now go claim it. ~ Denzel Washington

buckeyedude's picture

I like the way you think.



cinserious's picture

You have an offense that wants to score 50+ a game, a defensive line that will be able to pin their ears back & swarm the opposing QBs, & ball hawks EVERYWHERE in the secondary.

@ Gametime:
 Add to that defensive unit Ryan DAMN Shazier and a much improved Curtis 'Beast-mode' Grant, and I'll see your 50+ per game and raise it 20.

One day I will valiantly become a political prisoner of 11W jail.

luckynutz's picture

Some positions require this brand of confidence. And cornerback is definitely one of them. Its pretty obvious roby is the next in line to continue osu's tradition of stud corners at the next level. Glad he decided to put that dream on hold to fulfill his desire to win a crystal football though. And looking forward to seeing what he can do this season. I love me some DB swag...and this guy doesn't disappoint one bit.

dubjayfootball90's picture

Sarah, thank you for this. You NAILED it and you have me amped up for football several months early, even more so than I was yesterday.... Great article!!!

You can feed a bobcat all the chili it wants. That don't mean it's going to crap out diamonds.

FitzBuck's picture

Sorry I wanted to comment on how awesome this article was but I got so pumped up I ran head first into a wall.....I just regained consciousness

Fitzbuck | Toledo - Ohio's right armpit | "A troll by any other name is still a troll".

RBuck's picture

I don't care what Roby says, as long as he backs it up.

Long live the southend.

buckeyedude's picture

I saw a video once years ago of Muhammad Ali in a ring with a huge WWF type wrestler. Twice the size of Ali. Think of Andre the Giant. Don't know who it was for sure.
Anyway, Ali climbed in the ring and started dancing and dancing around with his fancy footwork, and the dude grabbed Ali, raised him above his head, and slammed him to the mat. Ali got up, dazed and confused. When the Big Guy started walking towards him again, Ali shook his head and couldn't get out of the ring fast enough. Bravado did not help him there. Hilarious.
If anybody cares, Gorilla Monsoon was his name. "On June 2, 1976, a very famous incident occurred in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania involving boxing great Muhammad Ali. Ali, preparing for his upcoming crossover bout with Antonio Inoki in Japan later that month, jumped into the ring as Monsoon was concluding a short match against Baron Mikel Scicluna. Ali removed his shirt and started dancing around Monsoon while gesturing and throwing jabs at him, to which Monsoon responded by grabbing Ali in his Airplane Spin and slamming him to the mat."
Found the video. This is frickin hilarious.
My whole point in all this is confidence is good, but there is a fine line between confidence and cockiness. I remember all the pre-game jibber-jabber during the Cooper years and it didn't help. Be careful Roby, we don't need to give anyone bulletin board material.



German Buckeye's picture

Well in this case, wasn't that all designed and acted out (as it is today)?  Looks that way to me at least. 

bedheadjc's picture

Staged, BD. If Monsoon dropping Ali from three feet up and then backing off equals "slamming him to the mat" then you are watching a different video than I am ;) I noticed that Ali didn't do much struggling while Monsoon had ahold of him. Also, what motivation would Ali have to get in the ring? I am sure Ali was paid well. The "fight" with Monsoon was to drum up business for the coming match with a Japanese wrestler later that month. He participated in other matches in the AWA as well.
But we all get your point.

MediBuck's picture

Love the attitude. We have the cool (Braxton), the comedic (Devin Smith), and the tough (El Guapo). The Bucks need a little cocky mixed in there, and I love it being a defender.

"There is a force that makes us all brothers, no one goes his way alone." --Woody Hayes

MN Buckeye's picture

Love Roby.  He has tremendous athleticism and speed.
Enjoyed watching the WI highlights and almost forgot how much I loved el Guapo ramming through their defenders and blocking for Brax.  What a punishing back; I hope he is motivated for this season!

BME_Buckeye's picture

I'm so glad this kid is on our team and I love the confidence and leadership he brings to the team. I hope he lives his dream to get the awards he has set out for and win for the team. Here is another quote I like from Roby: 

"You go into someone else's home, in front of their fans, their moms, their girlfriends, and you just want to dominate them," Roby said. "What's better than that? Going into somebody else's house and taking everything they have. You see that when we play away games. We play way better than we do at home."


“We gave ya’ll a (trailer) last year... next year is going to be a movie. It’s going to be crazy.”
Cleveland Plain Dealer

Look closely, because the closer you think you are, the less you will actually see.


IBleedSandG's picture

Best CB in the country! Kid is a flat out baller!