In a league where the defense is inherently limited, Beef linebacker Jesse Robertson Jr. makes plays.
The Washington, D.C. native leads Champion Indoor Football in tackles, is third in tackles for loss and leads the Beef in sacks.
You led Division II in tackles during your senior year at West Virginia Wesleyan. Now, you currently lead the CIF in tackles. What’s the secret to being so productive?
Just being hungry. Doing well keeps me hungry and proves that I still have something to work for and maintain, that I am the leader. It drives me to be even better because there’s always a reason for everything, so there must be a reason I’m leading in tackles. I just stay humble about it and really, just grind. That’s it.
How exciting was it to be named the CIF’s Defensive Player of the Week after week two?
I wasn’t actually expecting it, so it really was exciting. Normally players don’t win defensive player of the week when their team loses, so I was really surprised and it felt good.
In the indoor game, the role of the linebacker is intentionally limited – you literally can’t do certain things. What’s it like to play linebacker in the indoor game versus the outdoor game?
In indoor football, the linebacker has to align himself five yards off the line of scrimmage. The middle backer is truly in the middle because you can’t move. If you’re blitzing, you can’t walk up to the line, you can’t blitz from the outside. You can’t move around if there’s motion and nobody in the backfield. You can’t go out and match up with the receiver. You truly have to stay in the middle and just hold down the middle. They call penalties if you start moving forward before the hike of the ball so it’s actually pretty good for the linebackers. It teaches us to trust our abilities once the ball is snapped, and truly be an athlete and make plays and not cheat. So, it makes us better players in the outdoor game.
You’re third in the CIF in tackles for loss. How is that even possible when you consider you’re starting every play from a dead standstill five yards off the ball?
I have to give that credit to the defensive line. The guys up front make it easy on run plays so the running back has to check their feet and think. Once the ball is snapped, I’m gone. I’m five yards away prior to the snap, but after the snap, I’m coming downhill with bad intentions. If they bottle up the quarterback or the running back, it makes it easy for me to get down there and make a tackle because they’ve done such a good job up front.
Where are you from? What do you think about Omaha?
I’m from Washington D.C, the metropolitan area. Omaha is nice; it’s like a Midwest hub. To be honest, I thought it would be more of a hick town. I went to college in West Virginia, so I kind of thought Nebraska would be the same thing. But it really surprised me, there’s so much going on out here. Lincoln surprised me last year, and Omaha surprised me even more. I like Omaha.
How did you make it to Omaha and the Beef?
After college was over, I trained really hard and prepared and went to various CFL combines and AFL combines. I went to some regional combines for the NFL as well. It was actually really cool because on the NFL.com website they had statistics of me from when I led Division II in tackles. Even though nobody picked me up and I wasn’t invited to any camps, I just kept training.
I started working with some marketing guys and put my information on Facebook and made a fan page, hoping I could get picked up. So I made the Facebook page and a guy called me and told me he had a few teams in the CPIFL who were interested and needed a linebacker.
The Lincoln Haymakers called me, I went out there two days later, and ended up playing with Cory Ross and the Haymakers. The Lincoln Haymakers organization folded, Coach Cory Ross got the job here in Omaha, and along with some other players from the Lincoln Haymakers team, brought me out here to Omaha. It’s been a really long grind and I’m not where I want to be yet, but I am content and humble being here at the same time.
Who was your favorite player growing up?
Without question, Ray Lewis from the Baltimore Ravens.
With all of the limitations on your position, how are you able to be an impact player in a league that’s made for your role to be minimized?
Football is 90% mental. I’m not the biggest guy, I’m not the fastest guy, but I really know the game. Through all my years playing, I’ve learned where I’m supposed to be on the field and what I can do to help my teammates. Mentally, I am prepared – I watch a lot of film. And I always make sure I’m in the right place, because then, the play comes to me.
You’ve got to have a short memory – the best players in any league don’t get down after a bad play. The game is 60 minutes, so you’ve got to stay focused on the next play, then the next play…Even when things go bad and the other team scores, the only thing on our mind is, “Let’s get the ball back next time and force a turnover, and hit somebody hard.”
Like Jesse’s Facebook fan page here. Follow him on Instagram at jmrjroo9.