- Adam Rittenberg, College Football
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It's fitting that when Michigan needed a mini miracle to tie last week's game against Northwestern, Roy Roundtree answered the bell. The senior wide receiver, who has made his share of big catches during his career, added another last Saturday, hauling in a 53-yard completion following a deflection to set up the game-tying field goal with two seconds left in regulation (Michigan went on to win in overtime). It has been an interesting career for Roundtree, who had a breakout season in 2010 but saw his production drop last fall as Michigan went away from a pure spread and changed the responsibilities for the receivers. He has been a bigger factor lately and will play his final game at the Big House on Saturday at Iowa as Michigan tries to stay alive in the Legends division race.
ESPN.com caught up with "Tree" this week.
Last game at the Big House this weekend. How are you feeling about it?
Roy Roundtree: Man, I can't believe it's finally come to an end, playing there. I'm staying focused, like Coach [Brady] Hoke said, and prepare myself so I can leave there on top. It's really going to be emotional for us and our families because we've been here for four or five years. To see last year's seniors so emotional, and the way they played against Ohio [State] and really took it out on them. We've just got to develop the same results.
What's your favorite memory of playing there? Was it the catch last week? The one against Notre Dame?
RR: They were both top to me. I really can't pick which one was better. It was the first night game here [against Notre Dame], and then last week, it was crazy how I came down with that ball. I really believe they're tied for me.
What happened on that play last week?
RR: It was basically the same route that Jeremy Gallon got us down there with last year against Notre Dame. This time, I was just the point guy, and Devin stepped up in the pocket and threw it. It was one-on-one coverage, I thought there would be more people back there, but it was just one guy. He threw it up there and I really focused on the ball and it fell right into my hands.
Did you feel the defender [Northwestern's Daniel Jones] would tip it away?
RR: That's what I thought, but the wind blew my way, I guess.
It seems like you have a knack for making big catches. Has it always been that way in your career?
RR: I just always put a lot of pressure on myself because of what I can do. I just try to make the big catch. It's expected coming from a Michigan wide receiver. Our coach always emphasized that throughout camp, throughout spring ball. We actually talk among ourselves -- like me, Gallon and Funch [Devin Funchess], whoever the wide receivers are -- like, 'OK, I'm about to make the big play.' Last game, Funchess scored and Gallon made a big catch. I was like, 'OK, I guess it's my turn. I'm about to make a catch, so I can talk smack.' I made the catch, so I guess it gave me the win on that.
So were you talking smack this week?
RR: I was like, 'Yeah, I thought y'all were going to beat me, but y'all didn't.' They were like, 'Yeah, you won that one.' We always set ourselves up for challenges because we're trying to be the best wide receiving corps in the country.
So do you get in Devin's ear or Denard's ear and tell them if it's a close game, they need to get you the ball?
RR: I mean the play's called and they make their reads. Devin made a great read, he threw the ball up for me and I came down with it.
What has it been like being in one offense the first two years of your career and then a new system the last two years?
RR: I matured a lot better, learned more from defensive schemes, better route-running combinations in a pro-style offense. I feel like it really helped me. Even though you might not see 70 footballs, at the end of the day you're winning and that's all that matters. That's what I really enjoy doing. Blocking is the main thing for the receivers, and I really got set on that since Day 1. So I'm just trying to keep that going. But I've learned a lot.
Did you have to be more patient last year after being so productive (72 catches, 935 yards, 7 TDs) two years ago?
RR: That was the main thing. Once the ball came your way, you had to do something with it. I felt like all the wide receivers did that last year. Nobody had outstanding stats, but at the end of the day, we were winning. And we were getting knockdowns [on blocks]. Our goal was like, forget catches, let's get knockdowns on defenders.
How does playing in this offense prepare you for the NFL?
RR: I felt like I really developed a lot of skills from running slot and from running wide receiver. Coach [Al] Borges moves us around a lot, so I feel like it really helped me.
What kind of legacy does your senior class want to leave at Michigan?
RR: Man, just win out. Win out for each other, just like the younger guys winning out for the seniors. I want to leave my legacy as doing the right thing, staying focused one game at a time, Iowa this week and then we've got Ohio. So just trying to stay focused and finish strong.
You can't control what happens with Nebraska, but how much are you going to be watching what happens with them because of the division?
RR: I don't know what time they play or whatever, so I'll be watching whoever's on TV. You can't really worry about someone else.
I know how Coach Hoke feels about this, but in your mind, can it still be a successful season if you don't win a Big Ten title?
RR: We have to deal with what happens. I feel like I'll be happy if we finish out strong, and if the Big Ten works out our way, that will be great. But if not, we've still got the bowl game, and we can still leave out on top.
It's fitting that when Michigan needed a mini miracle to tie last week's game against Northwestern, Roy Roundtree answered the bell. The senior wide receiver, who has made his share of big catches during his career, added another last Saturday, hauling in a 53-yard completion following a deflection to set up the game-tying field goal with two seconds left in regulation (Michigan went on to win in overtime).