Ex-Buford QB leaving Oregon

By DARRYL MAXIE / dmaxie@ajc.com

Former Buford quarterback Justin Roper, who last week announced his decision to transfer from Oregon, says he wants to play closer to home and is willing to play in the Football Championship Subdivision. Of course, anybody who knows a thing about American geography realizes closer to home from Oregon could mean just about anyplace east of the Pacific Time Zone.

Roper said he doesn’t think larger schools will want to give him two years of scholarship for only one year of eligibility, but if he transfers to what used to be known as Division I-AA, he wouldn’t have to sit out one of his last two years of eligibility.

“I’m open to anything,” Roper told the Oregonian.

He doesn’t know where “anything” might lead, but wants it to be someplace where he can start. Once Jeremiah Masoli beat Roper for Oregon’s starting job in the spring, Roper talked with his family and decided the time was right to move on. Even though Oregon has had to dig deep into its bag of QBs because of injuries the past two seasons, Roper didn’t want to gamble whatever playing time he’s going to get on whether Masoli gets hurt or not.

Still, he doesn’t know where the next snap he takes will come from. If Roper looked at, say, Georgia State — just to pull a nearby FCS school out of a hat — he could give the Panthers an experienced college quarterback from their first snap, while guys like Drew Little from Henry County and Kelton Hill from Lithia Springs mature.

“It may not be up to me,” Roper said. “It might be who wants me.”

For more of what Roper’s thinking, take a look at this blog for The Oregonian.

24 comments Add your comment

Dawg Tired

May 28th, 2009
4:46 pm

Darryl – I don’t know anything about this young man. However, if he was actually good enough to get a D-1 scholarship to a school in a major conference like the Pac 10, he must be pretty good. As a fan of Georgia Southern and its rich football tradition, I would have thought that would be a possibility. Your mentioning Georgia State could be perceived as an attempt to favor that school over other schools (such as Georgia Southern or Furman or Wofford, etc.). Maybe I’m being too picky, but it would seem more responsible (and certainly less biased) to not mention any one school when writing about this situation.


May 28th, 2009
5:49 pm

Dawg Tired,
Roper has been a very good quarterback. However, he is not a running quarterback as is the preferred type at Oregon with the Spread option they run. Don’t think that because he is transferring that he isn’t good. He has a Sun Bowl win under his belt. He is very accurate and has a strong arm. The kid is 6′ 6″ tall and very mobile. He has NFL potential and that is why he is transferring. He won’t get a chance to start at Oregon and he needs that experience to up his draft stock. Any FCS school that picks up Roper is in for a couple great seasons, as long as there is someone to catch the ball.

Just go to Youtube and lookup the videos on the 2007 Sun Bowl and you’ll get some footage of Roper in action. Remember, that was 2007.


May 28th, 2009
6:18 pm

Dawg Tired

I think the suggestion of Georgia State was made because they don’t have any QBs who have taken any snap in college because they are building a new team and consequently Roper could be a good fit. It has nothing to do with a preference of Georgia Southern or Georgia State. I am sure he could do well at either school.


May 28th, 2009
6:24 pm

Bill Curry ………………… the “total person”.

No need to make any playoff plans at Georgia State in his lifetime.
Georgia Southern would be a good place for this youngster, and
absolutely, he can play.


May 28th, 2009
6:48 pm

I think there is a receiver from Buford at Furman. I wouldn’t be surprised if he goes there.


May 28th, 2009
10:20 pm

well you could always go out on a limb and head up I-75 to the great University of Tennessee. I hear they are in need of a quarterback as the better one left team and the other 2 cant play lol….

the real OLD GOLD

May 28th, 2009
11:07 pm

Maybe he could go back and play at Buford… I’m sure they have others that aren’t eligible.


May 29th, 2009
7:13 am

Since Justin’s dad worked on Curry’s staff at GT, it might be a real fit at GSU,ATL.


May 29th, 2009
1:36 pm

Come down to Georgia Southern. You would be guarenteed to start over Lee, especially since coach hatcher thought henton was better last year. He’s gone now so the door is wide open. Southern needs you!

G State Ben

May 29th, 2009
2:01 pm

Southern needs a lot and it is only getting worse with the way Georgia State. It would not suprise me at all to have him show up downtown and be playing in the Georgia Dome on Saturdays, not in a cow pasture.

Since Paul Johnson left, how have things been down in Statesboro. Yeah, didn’t think so. How about after firing Mike Sewak and grabbing former Georgia DC Brian Van Gorder. Nope, that didn’t work either.


May 29th, 2009
3:04 pm

If Roper has potential to play on Sundays, then he would have stayed put at Oregon. Several Pac-10 back-up QB’s have made NFL rosters. The fact is, though, that Roper was pretty fragile emotionally and psychologically, and just doesn’t have what it takes to play in a conference like the Pac-10. Oregon took a gamble on him and lost, plain and simple. They have a record of that. Roper will likely finish up his two remaining years of eligibility at Georgia School of Refrigerator Repair, and end up being just another shoulda-woulda-coulda from the south.


May 29th, 2009
3:27 pm

Oregon fan here. People here are sorry that Roper left, and wish he’d stay. He knew the playbook, and was always one of the first to congratulate a teammate from the sidelines. Excellent arm, deceptive speed for someone so lanky. Wasn’t going to beat out Masoli at QB or, next year, Thomas. Showed maturity and poise during interviews. Is an architecture major, so may want to continue in an architecture program. Whether he will make the NFL I couldn’t say, but he wants playing time. Not sure why “Rick” is hating on him. “Fragile” is not the word I’d use to describe him at all. Well-balanced. His big win in the 2007 Sun Bowl ( 4 TD passes, tied the bowl record) — after beginning the year as 5th string — is a genuine Oregon legend. Sorry he’s gone.


May 29th, 2009
3:44 pm

Joel: Not hating on him, but I do think that he got more credit for that 2007 Sun Bowl game than he deserved. He had a monster line blocking for him that year, and some receivers that made him look really good. Oregon had a lot of talent spread throughout the roster in 2007.

My main point was this: If he’s so good, why is he shying away from a back-up QB job in the Pac-10? Have you seen Lyle Moeveo or Sean Canfield at Oregon State afraid to back each other up? Roper would have had a better shot at the NFL by staying in Eugene than by going to a Div. 2 school.


May 29th, 2009
3:55 pm

I agree that Roper should have stayed, the Ducks record of needing backups to come in and perform speak for itself.
But I don’t know how an “emotionally fragile” person comes in for an injured QB during the Civil War and does everything he can to pull out a win to watch the coaches blow it. Or how that same fragile person has a first start in a bowl game and blows out a higher ranked team with a great performance.
Roper was recruited under a different offensive coordinator and scheme. Any player that is recruited is a gamble. Roper won a bowl game and was a contributor last year before being injured. He is also a very bright and talented guy. Take a look at his bio and grades, the guy has skills beyond football.
I wish him the best but still think he should have stayed a Duck.


May 29th, 2009
4:09 pm

Another Duck here. I have to agree that Roper was a big loss for the Ducks. He is a solid QB and would start on most PAC-10 teams, USC excluded. Has the size and a great arm.

Leaving Oregon was the result of him having an excellent spring, and with the fact the Costa is ahead of his rehab schedule (and a favorite of Coach Keely), Roper was looking at coming out of fall practice as the #3 QB on the roster. And next year would only be worse, as Thomas will be in the mix.

Some team is going to end up with a great QB!

I wish him the best!


May 29th, 2009
4:50 pm

Another Oregon fan chiming in here. Justin provided valuable depth at QB, but let’s not kid ourselves here; Justin does not appear to be an NFL caliber player. We loved him, his effort, and his team spirit. But I disagree with his decision to leave. Homesick or not, he will get more exposure as a Duck backup than in most D1AA schools. Besides, there’s no guarantee that he won’t end up 2nd string wherever he ends up anyway.

As for his Sun Bowl performance, he made the plays when they were there to be had. But, it was Jonathan Stewart and the 400 yards plus rushing of the Ducks that destroyed USF. Having said that, Justin was always prepared when he was called on and without him, we would definitely have a few less wins.


May 29th, 2009
7:41 pm

Saying that Stewart won the Sun Bowl is stretching it. 4 TD passes… I don’t think Stewart threw those balls. Besides, that was Roper’s first year playing. He has another year under his belt now and he is that much better. He has two more years to play and he’ll get even better. Remember how bad Dixon was in 2006, his junior year? His senior year he was on his way to the Heisman before he blew out his knee. For Roper, staying a backup at Oregon wasn’t going to get him any playing time or exposure. As Michael said, Costa would have had a good chance of being #2 because he beat out Roper the year before after knee surgery so there is no reason he wouldn’t have done it again. The coaches were honest with him and I believe they told him he is a good quarterback and if he really wants to go to the NFL, then he should look elsewhere.

Roper did what was best for his chances to make it to the NFL. Playing as a backup in a spread option offense isn’t going to get him drafted. He needs time in a more traditional offense and he’ll make it.


May 30th, 2009
11:06 am

Roper would be the equivalent of a 5+ star high school qb at this point, he was solid just on the wrong team for him. He might not make it to the nfl but the odds are against everybody anyway.. what he can do is make a winner of a team thats was marginal last year. I just hope things work out for him and that he gets to show his true potential. As far as I’m concerned the Ducks did make the right decision.


June 1st, 2009
10:48 am

Roper quit period. He worked his rear off and didn’t win the starting job in spring practice. He talked with the new coach and was undoubtedly told that he would be the definitive backup…and if you’ve seen the guy play he’s definitely put out more effort than should be expected from a backup. Now this is a kid that has dealt primarily with success in high school ball and hasn’t lost as a starter. The first real defeat – if you can call being #2 for a team that regularly finishes in the top 25 (#10 last year) a defeat – results in his decision to pack it up and jump ship. Emotionally fragile? Seems spot on Rick. Roper also had an injury last year and though he was healthy enough to get through Oregon’s spring practice his knee remains a question mark. Physically fragile? Mabye.


June 1st, 2009
1:41 pm

Justin Roper should be given a chance at a major program. i am a huge duck fan and watched him play great in every opportunity he was given. he has decent arm strength, a very nice touch on the balls he throws, is accurate and makes good decision. he is deceptively fast for a 6′6″ pocket passer, performing well in our read-option offense.Maybe the best part of it all is the way he handled losing his starting job. At least 2 or three times he was taken off the field after performing well, as a back up or starter, and handled it with class. he came to practice to get better and help get his team get better with out ever complaining or being a distraction. I would like to wish Justin the best in the future, i think whatever school gets him will be lucky.


June 2nd, 2009
7:19 am

Wow, a lot of credit going to a QB who played great in one game. He has potential, but he only used it for one game at Oregon. He obviously had chances to start with all the QB injuries at Oregon. He didn’t take advantage of those opportunities. Outside of the Sun Bowl, he wasn’t a deciding factor in any of Oregon’s games.
It’s not as big of a loss as people think. He isn’t a spread offense QB, and should have never been signed. That being said, this opens up more room for QBs that actually fit the offense.

I’m not missing Roper.

GL to him though.


June 2nd, 2009
1:12 pm

please go to tennesssee


June 3rd, 2009
9:40 am

Roper is not NFL material. He is accurate and has shown improved decision making, which wasn’t all that bad to begin with as a young QB when he was asked to step in for Dixon. He contributed greatly to that Sun Bowl win. However he doesn’t have the arm strength to play in the NFL. And he doesn’t have the speed or agility to make the defenses worry about him keeping the ball on the read option. He has enough to be serviceable, but will never possess the ability to break the long play like Masoli, and in the end that’s why he wouldn’t get the starting nod. But I think he can do great in a spread passing attack like Texas Tech or a pro style offense. That leads me to one conclusion: he knows he isn’t going to make the NFL, and since he’s not going to be able to do so, he wants to play as much as he can while in college. I can’t say I blame him. I’ll be the first person to harp on these 4 star running backs who sign with USC so that they can sit on the bench for four years only to split carries in their fifth. So how can I blame a guy who just wants to get as much playing time as possible? I don’t, and I wish him the best. Wherever he ends up, that team is getting a quality player and won’t be disappointed.


June 3rd, 2009
4:23 pm

Another Duck fan here. JUSTIN ROPER will be a good QB in D1-AA. He was a good backup at Oregon, but please do not kid yourself to think he was a legit starter. I’ve heard other Duck fans chime in here and say he would be a starter in all other Pac-10 schools w/exception being USC. Ok, seriously? Look at rosters across the Pac-10 and Roper maybe starts at probably Washington St, Arizona St, and maybe just maybe at Arizona and UCLA.

He was a great teammate, but not a leader in the locker room. He was obviously not the prototype QB for Kelly’s offense. I’m not knocking the kid, he’s a solid student athlete that just needs to be at a different school w/the right system. He certainly could be a competent D1 QB, or a D1-AA for that matter.

Oregon’s incumbent starter is a Pre-Season Pac10 1st team by most pre-season publications (means nothing I know) and Thomas was a Parade All-American out of Texas who’s Dennis Dixon’s clone but stronger and not as lengthy. Unfortunately for Roper he was not going to see much playing time. Oh, and Costa the 3rd stringer would have been the starter last year if it were not for his bad knee.

All Oregon fans wish Roper the best. I hope we can continue guys in the south, like Georgia the chance to come out west to the Pacific Northwest and experience Pac-10 football and the rabid nature of Oregon Football. SEC football is special, not comparing our product to that of Florida, Georgia, or the LSUs of the world but playing football in Eugene is a special thing.