Tre Roberson is trying to make it in the NFL the hard way. After playing quarterback at Indiana and Illinois State, he latched on this offseason as an undrafted rookie free-agent cornerback with the Vikings. He was cut near the end of training camp, and since then he has been signed to and cut from the practice squad multiple times — the latest transaction coming Tuesday when he was once again added. Roberson, who turned 24 Saturday, chatted recently with the Star Tribune’s Michael Rand.
Q: I was reading your bio and it sounds like you had a very famous grandfather, Larry Highbaugh, a track star at Indiana. Was he an influence on your life?
A: I mean yes, but he lived in Atlanta and he was working a lot at the high school he worked at as a referee. We were so far apart, but I talked to him enough and I was around him enough. Some of my athleticism comes from him.
Q: You were a two-sport athlete [football and basketball] growing up. When did you have to choose?
A: I chose my sophomore year of high school after my football season. I had gotten hurt playing basketball, tore my meniscus, and that’s when I decided I was just going to focus on one sport and try to give it my all.
Q: Being on the practice squad, shuttling back and forth, what’s that life like?
A: It’s stressful. It’s really stressful. But at the same time, you have to be strong and be confident and know that everything is in God’s hands and it’s going to be best for you. I just try to live day by day. I don’t stress, I don’t worry about the next day, everything is all about today.
Q: When did you get the call that you were coming back to the practice squad this time?
A: Late Monday.
Q: Where were you at that point?
A: Oh, I was still in my apartment in Minnesota. … [The Vikings] said there was probably going to be an opportunity where I would come back.
Q: What’s it like being part of an organization that’s 5-0 right now?
A: It’s great. That’s one of the most special things, being around all these guys. I love being here. Just to watch these guys play every Sunday and being around them is special.
Q: When you’re on the practice squad, what’s your role — more trying to improve as a player or make your teammates better as they prepare for specific matchups?
A: I’m definitely always trying to make guys around me better when I’m on defense. I’m trying to give them good looks and give them everything I can. I also work on my game because you can give them a good look and work on your game at the same time.
Q: Off the field, when people try to get to know you, what are some of the things they find out?
A: I’m a really laid-back, fun, cool dude. I’m just a good time to be around. I have best friends who always want to be around me. I’m always in a group message with them, doing FaceTime with them on both of my phones. I just put one friend on one phone and one on the other. They can both hear each other and both see me.