MAYVILLE, N.D. — Mayville State University wide receivers coach Logan Levy first connected with Elijah Roundtree via Twitter last spring after Roundtree had decommitted from another NAIA football program.
From there, the recruiting process was virtual due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“It was during our COVID recruiting process,” said first-year Mayville State head coach Rocky Larson.
Levy walked around the university’s campus with his phone and used FaceTime to give Roundtree a video tour.
“We walked the whole campus,” said Roundtree, who played prep football at Discovery High School in Lawrenceville, Ga. “We walked to the fieldhouse, around the dorms, to the field. He showed me everything."
Roundtree liked what he saw and committed to Mayville State in mid-May. Four months later, he’s already made his mark on the program. In his first college game last Saturday, the 6-foot-2, 190-pound receiver had seven catches for 213 yards and two touchdowns in the team’s 50-40 home loss against Waldorf (Iowa).
“He’s been the surprise of camp, that is for sure,” Larson said.
Roundtree set the program’s single-game record for receiving yards against Waldorf, showing his big-play ability with touchdown catches that covered 60 and 79 yards.
“It was really nice. It was fun,” Roundtree said. “I really couldn’t have done it by myself, it was all 11 on both sides of the ball.”
Coming off a 2-8 season, the Comets were picked to finish last of six teams in the North Star Athletic Association preseason coaches’ poll. Mayville State lost to Waldorf 63-0 last season. The Comets are hoping newcomers like Roundtree can help make this fall more successful.
“He’s a big target, he’s athletic and he’s got good hands,” said Comets quarterback Creighton Pfau, a fourth-year starter and West Fargo High School graduate. “I have a lot of faith in all my receivers. He just found a way to get open a lot (against Waldorf) so he had a big game and I’m proud of him. … He is one of those standouts for sure and I’m just excited to see where we go the rest of the year.”
Comets freshman running back Sirr Daye rushed for 67 yards on 14 attempts against Waldorf before leaving the game with a knee injury. Freshman receiver Maalik Flowers had four catches for 60 yards and a touchdown. When Daye first went down, the injury looked worse with the Comet players kneeling in silence. Larson said Daye is day-to-day for next weekend with a bruised knee.
“The one thing that was pretty obvious is we got some kids that can run and we addressed a lot of those issues throughout the recruiting process,” Larson said. “These freshmen, they don’t know the difference between Waldorf, Valley City, Presentation. They don’t know that we lost 63-0 unless they go look at the boxscore, they weren’t a part of that.”
Roundtree played at the same high school as North Dakota State running back Kobe Johnson, who is in his second year in the Bison program. Roundtree said he talked with Johnson about the area after he committed to Mayville State. While Roundtree admits he was hesitant to go to college so far away from home during a pandemic, he’s happy with his decision.
“I’m glad I came here because my teammates, they’re the best,” Roundtree said. “The coaching staff, I love them. I couldn’t ask for a better team.”
Roundtree didn’t see the Mayville State campus for the first time until August when he arrived for the start of fall camp. He flew into Fargo with his mother, Ivelisse Galindez, and then drove directly to Mayville.
“As we drove onto campus, I saw coach Levy,” Roundtree said. “My mom pulled the car over and I jumped out. I had to shake his hand, the first time meeting him in person.”
Larson said Roundtree arrived a polished route runner, and his 6-foot-2 frame is something the Comets needed at wide receiver.
“We were not really sure what we were getting,” Larson said. “He’s a very, very pleasant surprise. He is a smooth route runner. He’s an easy strider, a big target.
"We liked him as a person, an awesome kid, and he fit the culture that we were trying to build.”
Roundtree credits Andre Powell, who he trained with at P.A.S.S. Football Academy in Hiram, Ga., near Atlanta, in preparing him for the college game.
“That training group, he really developed me into who I am,” Roundtree said. “It was amazing.”
The Comets play at 2 p.m. (CST) Saturday, Sept. 19 at Dickinson State, the preseason conference favorite. The Blue Hawks defeated Mayville State 79-14 and 63-13 last season.
Larson is hoping his team can build off its performance against Waldorf.
“They believe that this is different,” Larson said. “We can do some really, really good things around here. We just have to continue to work at it.”