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The Jacque Roman Recruiting Saga

By Jim Johnson
SouthernPigskin.com
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In the early aughts, Jacque Roman was in the midst of the recruiting process that so many athletes experience each year. His story turned out a little different.

“Sometimes the fairy tale doesn't work out. I had written the book, everything was falling into place, but it didn't work for me."
~Jacque Roman

In the early aughts, Jacque Roman, a standout inside linebacker at Camden County High School, in south Georgia, was in the midst of the recruiting process that so many athletes experience each year.

He earned All-State recognition as a senior, helped lead the Wildcats to a state championship with a perfect 15-0 record as an integral part of a defense that recorded nine shutouts, and was selected to play in the 2003 Georgia North-South All-Star game.

“My junior year,” Roman began, “everything started to move for me. Coming after my junior year, I was pretty much getting offered by D-I schools.”

This was, of course, during the pinnacle of Miami football. Roman’s formative high school years were spent watching “The U” run off four consecutive conference titles and win the National Championship in 2001, a year in which Larry Coker trotted out, arguably, the greatest collection of talent college football has ever seen.

“I always wanted to be a Miami Hurricane,” Roman admitted. “I saw Ray Lewis, Warren Sapp, the defense at that time was the most elite defense in college football. I said, ‘if they offered me, I'm going.’”

Roman was not the most highly touted prospect, by the various recruiting services, at the time. However, if his offer list (which included the likes of Auburn and Louisville) is any indication, college coaches saw his talent.

“I turned all the other schools down because Miami told me they were going to offer me after I took a recruiting visit,” told Roman. “So I went down there with my dad. They rolled out the red carpet for me.

Click for further reading on Willie Williams

“They said they were only going to sign one middle linebacker, and it was going to be Willie Williams. I think he had gotten an assault charge during his visit to Florida, and had gotten in trouble a couple of other instances. They thought he was a liability. So they told me, 'you're the next man up.'”

Williams was the nation’s top rated linebacker, and number three overall recruit, behind Adrian Peterson and Ted Ginn Jr., for the class of 2004. As Roman stated, though, his off-the-field issues were enough to give any program pause.

Knowing they weren't going to sign him, and they were going to sign me, all my dreams were falling into place,” Roman stated.

“Sometimes the fairy tale doesn't work out. I had written the book, everything was falling into place, but it didn't work for me.

“I got back from my recruiting trip and Miami told me they were going to send the papers to my house.

“Two days before signing day, I'm wondering where the papers are. The day before signing day, I'm calling but no one's answering the phone. Miami never sent the papers for me to sign, and all the other schools that had been recruiting me -- Auburn, Louisville, all these schools -- I kind of slapped them in the face by saying I was going to Miami, and they didn't want any part of me.

“They had already signed all their players,” he recounted.

This was obviously one of the great fork in the road moments of Jacque Roman’s life.

Roman said, “My mindset was to keep pushing. I'm in this predicament. I was down at one point, but I had to look in the mirror and say, 'You're going to make it no matter what. Just keep working out. Keep trying.' So that's what I did.

“After I didn't sign with Miami, I sat out a whole year of football. I worked for a moving company from around 8:00 AM until between 6:00 and 8:00 PM, and then would head straight to the recreation center to work out.

“That year, I was in the best shape of my life. I said, 'If someone comes calling, I'll be ready.'

The recruiting season came back around, the next year, and a lot of schools did start calling.

“One of the first schools that called me was Appalachian State. Coach Moore knew my story, and when he and Coach Jones called me, I felt the warmth of the university.

Roman got a phone call the next day saying they were in Brunswick, Georgia, about 30 minutes away, heading to Camden from Boone, North Carolina. They drove all the way down, entered his living room and told him they wanted him to play linebacker at Appalachian State.

“That was the beginning of my college career,” Roman says.

“I got other offers after Appalachian State, but, especially after my visit to App State, I felt like I could trust a university for the first time. Sitting out for that year, I didn't think I could trust a college football program ever, but Appalachian State felt like family, and I committed on my visit.”

These days, Roman has some advice for student athletes perhaps dealing with similar situations.

“For the guys out there going through the recruiting process,” he said, “and thinking that they want to commit to this big university, my advice would be to live it out, play as hard as you can, put it all on the field, and let God handle the rest. You've got to to stay persistent. That's what I did, and I knew the phone calls would come.”

Jacque Roman went on to be a three time All-Socon selection, two time All-American, 2008 First Team All-American and SoCon Defensive Player of the Year, and won three National Championships as a Mountaineer.

Suffice it to say, his perseverance paid off.

Jim Johnson - Editor of Southern Pigskin, Producer of "Three & Out", and host of "Explosive Recruiting" on the Southern Pigskin Radio Network. E-mail: jim@espncoastal.com Twitter: @JimJohnsonSP