GV Football wide receiver coach Roy Roundtree’s road to coaching


Courtesy / MLive

Justice Steiner, Staff Writer

Many may hear the name Roy Roundtree and remember a game-winning touchdown catch in 2011 to beat the University of Notre Dame or a nine-catch, 246-yard performance to set what was a school record for receiving yards in a single game at the time. But now, the former University of Michigan wide receiver and All-Big Ten second-team honoree impacts the game of football in a new way: from the sidelines. 

The 32-year-old wide receivers coach at Grand Valley State University has had a long journey in his young career, coaching at five different schools since 2015, including at his alma mater as a graduate assistant. 

“I took a step back and became a GA (graduate assistant) and I learned so much more football,” Roundtree said. “Just learning to hone in on the little details and how important it is to be a teacher first and be able to relate to your players.” 

Roundtree said building a connection with the players is one of the key components to coaching that he learned in his time coaching under University of Michigan head coach, Jim Harbaugh. 

With his youth, energy, and charisma, Roundtree has been able to use what he learned from Harbaugh and bring it to GVSU in his own way. 

“He still has that young mindset; he’s out there running routes with us and stuff,” said junior wide receiver Jacob Miller. “We’ll be watching film and he’ll stop midway through and pull up his own highlights on YouTube and show us.”

Other than being able to build relationships with players on and off the field, Roundtree has also brought an immense amount of experience and knowledge of the game to the wide receiver room for the Lakers.

“I’ve learned more from him in his first couple of months here as a coach than I’ve learned in my whole receiving career,” Miller said.

Although Roundtree was hired into the program in March of 2020, the 2021 season is his first season coaching with the program after the 2020 season was canceled due to COVID-19. With the protocols that were set in place, the team had to operate over Zoom for the beginning stages of his coaching at GVSU.

“I was never in front of these guys and we were always on the Zoom calls,” Roundtree said. “That’s how we kind of connected and it really helped once we were allowed in the building; we were able to just take off from there.”

Following the canceled season, Roundtree finally got the chance to coach in his first game as a Laker, which was against Colorado State University-Pueblo, where Roundtree held his first coaching job for the Thunderwolves in 2015. 

With it being nearly two years since coaching in a game due to the canceled season, Roundtree said “it felt like Christmas” to get back on the field as the Lakers defeated the Thunderwolves 34-14.

With the 2021 season now nearing its end, Roundtree compared his first year of coaching with the program to some Divison I schools in certain ways.

“The facilities, the people, the fans, the stadium, the resources we have is kind of similar to these Divison I schools,” Roundtree said. “That’s the great thing about being at Grand Valley State; it wasn’t a far drive for me, it was an opportunity to display what I’ve learned over the years and implement it in our guys.”

Even with all the individual accomplishments, Roundtree acquired in his time playing at the University of Michigan, he said his favorite memory was the team accomplishment of beating rival the Ohio State University in 2011. 

Adversity wasn’t an uncommon occurrence in Roundtree’s time playing the game of football. 

Roundtree said not starting his freshman year of college was difficult, especially when his roommate, running back Michael Shaw, was starting. But he decided to stick with the program, a decision that worked out well as he finished his career seventh on the school’s all-time receiving yards list. 

After the conclusion of his senior year, Roundtree also signed with the Cincinnati Bengals after going undrafted in the 2013 NFL draft. However, he was released during the team’s final roster cuts, another obstacle that paved the way for him to get where he is today.

“I think it did (help me get where I am today) because of the situation that majority of the people in the NFL are in,” Roundtree said. “You get there and like they say, ‘NFL, not for long’ so I took that into consideration.”

Following his playing career, Roundtree said he always knew he wanted to coach the game of football. Becoming a leader of both his high school and college teams helped him realize coaching may be a good fit for his career after his time playing on the field. 

As for the future, Roundtree said he hopes to use what he has learned throughout his playing and coaching career and take on the responsibilities of an offensive coordinator if the opportunity presents itself.