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Most Crucial Jayhawks 2016: No. 14 - LB Marcquis Roberts

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As our offseason countdown gets closer to the top 10, we take a look at a veteran presence on the Kansas football team’s defense.

Though he didn’t start his college career with the Jayhawks, this linebacker showed in 2015 the potential to accomplish much more on the field this coming season.

Reminder: This is not a list of the 25 best players on this year's team. That would be much easier to pinpoint and, while still key, would not exactly demonstrate the full value that each player has in regard to the 2016 season.

This is a list of the 25 players who need to have strong seasons in order for the Jayhawks to have a chance to compete.

Matt Tait and I came up with the list by each making our own list of 25 and then combining the results. We did the same thing for the last two years, but the amount of fresh faces made this list much tougher to put together.

Track the list every weekday at KUsports.com, where we'll unveil the list one-by-one in reverse order. And, in case you miss some, be sure to check the links at the bottom of each entry for an up-to-date look at the list of 25.

Kansas junior linebacker Marcquis Roberts (5) breaks through the line to bring down Kansas State fullback Winston Dimel behind the line during the annual Sunflower Showdown game Saturday at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas junior linebacker Marcquis Roberts (5) breaks through the line to bring down Kansas State fullback Winston Dimel behind the line during the annual Sunflower Showdown game Saturday at Memorial Stadium. by John Young

14. Marcquis Roberts, Sr. Linebacker

It takes a tremendous ability to concentrate through the pain and absorb the physical pounding that comes with playing college football for any athlete. To do so when playing with the sort of knee pain Marcquis Roberts has through the years requires even greater focus and pain tolerance.

The good news: Roberts’ knees, according to those who would know, feel better than at any point during his time at Kansas after transferring from South Carolina.

Roberts gets after it hard during summer conditioning and arrived early and in great shape.

A 6-foot-1, 223-pound senior from Powder Springs, Ga., Roberts started 11 of 12 games last season, appearing in but not starting one game when hampered by injury. He ranked third on the team with 71 tackles, had 3.5 tackles for loss, recovered two fumbles and in one of the most memorable plays of a mostly forgettable 0-12 season for the team, Roberts returned an interception 83 yards for a touchdown.

His most productive game came against TCU, when he contributed a game-high 12 tackles, 1.5 behind the line of scrimmage, and a quarterback hurry.

Roberts is among the most experienced players on the roster, having started 25 games for power-conference schools.

Roberts missed the first two years of his college career with injuries, sidelined by shoulder surgery in 2011 and knee woes in 2012. He earned a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies at South Carolina in May, 2015, which enabled him to transfer to Kansas without sitting out a year.

His pre-game routine — dances around the perimeter of the field with headphones on while wearing a backpack — is the most interesting and entertaining on the team.

Roberts pairs with Joe Dineen in KU’s 4-2-5 defense to make linebacker perhaps the team’s strongest position.

Top 25 Most Crucial Jayhawks of 2016:

No. 25 - OL Jayson Rhodes

No. 24 - CB Kyle Mayberry

No. 23 - OL Joe Gibson

No. 22 - WR Steven Sims, Jr.

No. 21 - DE Anthony Olobia

No. 20 - RB Denzell Evans

No. 19 - DE Damani Mosby

No. 18 - S Tyrone Miller

No. 17 - DB Tevin Shaw

No. 16 - OL Jordan Shelley-Smith

No. 15 - TE Ben Johnson

Comments

Dirk Medema 5 years, 4 months ago

Is there any position even close to as strong as linebacker on this team’s? I don't see it as even close unfortunately, especially when you consider the depth with Arnick, though the next player up is a complete newb.

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