Roby Wouldn't Let Injury Keep Him Out of Close Game
By Tony Gerdeman
COLUMBUS, Ohio — With 2:12 remaining in the third quarter, leading 20-14 against California on Saturday, Cal receiver Keenan Allen caught a rollout pass for a first down and was tackled on the sideline by Buckeye cornerback Bradley Roby.
Photo by Dan Harker
Roby lowered his shoulder to bring down the 6'3" 210-pound receiver and came out the worse for it. He had to leave the game with a painful shoulder injury, and it wasn't clear if he would be able to return.
With California approaching the redzone and gaining momentum by the second, Ohio State was without their best player in the back seven. Doran Grant, the Buckeyes' third cornerback, entered the game late and had to scramble to get to his spot. The timing could not have been worse for the Scarlet and Gray.
Roby reached the sideline and was looked over by the training staff, and they didn't like what they saw.
"They asked me if I wanted to play and told me that I shouldn't really be out there," he said.
"I really couldn't even use my arm. They were like if it hurts too bad, if you can't really move it – because at one point I couldn't really move it that much – and they were like, 'If you don't want to play, then don't play.'"
Don't play? Not likely.
Roby, one arm hanging slightly lower than the other, came back into the game having missed only three plays. In obvious pain, he was given the option to sit the rest of the game out, which didn't really seem like any option at all.
"When I saw the score, I was like, 'Yeah, I've got to play. I can't let my team down.'," he said. "I just did what I had to do to win the game for my team."
There were times before and after a play when it was clear that he wasn't 100%, but you couldn't tell that from his effort during a play. Known as a lockdown corner, Roby is also equally adept at run support, and he didn't shy away from contact.
Even more than what he provided physically, there was also the fact that he is an extremely knowledgeable player, and his experience on the field is just as important as his ability.
Part of that experience came into play on Christian Bryant's game-clinching interception. Just a redshirt sophomore, not much gets by Roby's steadied eyes.
"Roby communicated to me before the play they were going to run the seam route," Bryant explained. "And Ryan [Shazier] did a great job of re-routing their receiver and forcing the quarterback to overthrow it."
If Roby wasn't in the game at that point, would Doran Grant have known which play was coming? And would he have communicated it in time for Bryant to be able to adjust? Would Bryant have had the trust in Grant that he obviously has in Roby?
Those questions never had to be answered. The communication problems that have plagued this team for over a season had suddenly disappeared. In their place was the perfect relay of what was about to happen, and the perfect way to attack it, all because Bradley Roby felt that he couldn't let his teammates down.
One of the reasons for such determination was because he was simply following the lead of one of his senior captains.
"I've got to play for my teammates, just like Johnny [Simon] did," Roby said of his decision to return to the field.
"He wasn't supposed to play, and he played anyway. I got banged up a little bit, I might sit out a couple of practices, but that's what you do for your teammates. I don't really have to talk about it or brag about it, that's just how I am."
More will be known about Roby's situation after Tuesday and Wednesday's practices, whether he takes part in them or not. Even if he doesn't know what the next few days holds for him, he certainly knows what he'll be doing on Saturday.
When asked how the injury will affect him moving forward, he left no room for doubt.
"I'll play for sure, so that's all that matters."
Especially if the decision is left up to him.
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