Seth Roberts’ Winding Path to the NFL May Make Him the Raiders’ Unsung Star

OAKLAND, Calif. — When Seth Roberts walked to the line of scrimmage, he didn't have a clue. What was his route? What was this coverage? Oh no, was that his position coach scowling over there?

His first season at West Alabama, Roberts would inevitably screw up and phone home in a pit of frustration.

"There was too much mentally going through him," said his father, Ronnie Roberts. "His mind would go blank."

Yet here is Seth Roberts today.

There's only one minute, 55 seconds left in overtime. At the Buccaneers' 41-yard line, on 4th-and-3 from the slot, he smells blood. Roberts toasts his man on an ankle-breaking slant route, catches Derek Carr's laser, busts through two tacklers and coasts to the end zone. He guns the ball at a "Bucs for a Better Bay" sign on the back wall and is mauled by teammates.

He's not clueless. He's a hero.

At the center of Raiders magic this season is a 6'2", 195-pound kid from Nowhere, USA. Roberts landed in the Bay Area via Pearl River (Mississippi) Community College and Division II West Alabama. Three of his 10 touchdowns in two seasons have been game-winners. OK, so it's a fourth overall pick (Amari Cooper) and a rejuvenated 10th overall pick (Michael Crabtree) who are really anchoring this aerial attack, but you know how the NFL postseason works.

Seasons boil down to someone else.

David Tyree pins a football against his helmet. Mario Manningham is a trapeze artist along the sideline. Jacoby Jones leaks free in the Broncos secondary with 31 seconds left to cradle a 70-yard touchdown. Jermaine Kearse hot-potatoes a catch off five body parts.

Seth Roberts could be next. He's trending toward such a moment.

He takes a seat inside his locker and reminisces. The brutal murder of a cousin rocked his world in high school. The death of a grandmother tested him in college. The blistering-tough love of one coach w...

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