May 18, 2012 – Day 10
I know what you’re hoping to find out by reading today’s blog, but I think you are going to be sadly mistaken if you were expecting what I think you’re looking for. This story is not about a wild spring break, but the one that ultimately altered my life. Through some quick back ground and build up I hope you take a second out of your busy day to learn more about me and why I’m here.
To keep this blog interesting I thought I’d share some personal stories since most of my followers may strictly follow me cause I play football for the University of Georgia. I think a lot of times people don’t really know why we came to the school we chose to play for. Often times people think we strictly come for playing time or for the playbook and how we fit into the system. I can personally say that none of these scenarios applies to why I chose to attend the best university in the world.
For those who may not know I’m from Lawrenceville, Georgia. I had always loved football and grown up playing in the Brookwood district with guys like Rennie Curran and the brothers Jarrett and AJ Mackey. When my father decided to leave MS Carriers they wanted to relocate our whole family to their fleet in Oklahoma. My father at one of my playoff basketball games in 6th grade nervously was on a phone call the whole game discussing the options. I remember sitting on the bench (mainly because I was a terrible basketball player) and thinking that I really wanted him to watch me sit on the bench instead of take that call ha. But we left the gym that night and he told me that he was quitting his job and I was instantly consumed with the fear that things were not always going to be the way I thought they were. I really believe this was the moment that I first experienced uncertainty in my life. When you’re a 6th grader, the things you’re really concerned about are what your’e going to eat at lunch and whether your mother will let you walk to school, two things me and my mother would battle about (I won neither argument). But from that moment I knew my life was going to change and I really didn’t know how.
My father spent many weeks at home, which added a whole new twist to our family strictly because dad was more involved in our lives. He had spent many days commuting to work from Lawrenceville to Monroe that it left little time to be at home. This is in no way shape or form a knock at him and he knows this. I consider myself one of the luckiest people in the world for my two parents who have sacrificed so much for me to be where I am. My father and mother had always had busy lives when we were young. My dad with his job for MS Carriers and my mother with her job as a nurse at Gwinnett Medical. Both of these occupations were very time consuming and with this new twist in our lives we were unaware of how our relationships would change for the better.
With the increased time at home for my father due to unemployment and my mothers increased hours at the hospital we really got to spend a lot of time with dad. That said the amount of attention to the behaviors that he deemed “bad” were quickly to be shaped towards the way he wanted. Our spiritual conversations increased and ultimately led to the thoughts and beliefs I hold today. Dad spent a lot of time reading and meditating daily, which is one of the things I wish I had more of an ability to do. Days turned into weeks, weeks into months and before you know it the young children of the family, not as aware of how God always provides, got nervous that we wouldn’t be taken care of. Not knowing how God works, we began to ask questions like “Hey dad do you know when you’ll get a new job” or “What ya thinking about doing dad?” These are only normal questions 6th and 2nd grade children would ask their father. This led to one of those stories that is family unique that has been told several times since then.
When my dad was in college he was driving down a back road in Charleston, South Carolina where the Robinson family originates. He saw an old lady walking down the side of an extremely long road with a handful of groceries. My dad being of kind nature and having a servant’s heart decided to stop and ask her for help. She was thankful and hopped in the car and headed on their way. They arrived at her house and she got out of the car and turned to my father. In an old southern Charleston accent she said to my father “You’ll never have to worry about money or being taken care of.” My father to this day really believes that he was in the presence of an angel. You can believe what you want and choose to think that this is psycho-religious babble or you can stop and listen for a second. Matthew 25:40 reads, “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” When you’re young and your father tells you a story like that it calms your heart. When you grow up in a house like the one I did these stories have meaning. So I quickly had a change of heart.
A few more weeks went by and GACS had reached out to my dad as a potential employee of the school. When the thought of leaving Brookwood became an option I quickly would complain and tell my father “No!” I had friends and football and acceptance! No one wants to leave a sure thing for the unknown, but this was what was about to happen. I remember showing up for the first day thinking 1) I hate uniforms and 2) why don’t I have a cell phone like everyone else. All jokes aside I starred to get in the swing of things and football made things easier.
Football was a constant for me. Being a coach’s son wasn’t always easy, but the lessons I learned helped me later down the road in ways I never really imagined. After breaking my back and almost losing a finger in weight lifting accidents I was able to play my sophomore year. I hadn’t played football in two years and I didn’t know how well I would match up with everyone else at that level. I ended up starting before the end of the season and getting a lot of playing time.
Finally my junior year came along and great talent like Caleb King, Lee Chapple and T-Bob Herbert all who went on to the next level surrounded me. I really believe that having Caleb come to GAC was one the biggest reasons I was given a scholarship to UGA. We had scouts coming everyday to try and sway Caleb their way and in the meanwhile they happened to notice a scrawny junior linebacker in the background. I honestly didn’t think I was going to have an opportunity to play at a big school like Georgia mainly because I was 185 pounds and thin. My dad had always reminded me of how if we just keep working hard and doing the right thing that things would fall in the right direction and I really took that to heart.
I remember getting my first scholarship offer from Duke my junior year and I was ecstatic. If it had not been for my dad reminding me that I needed to weigh my options I would probably be a Duke Blue Devil strictly because I thought I wouldn’t be receiving any more offers. Soon after that a coach named Warren Belin came in and had me sold. As many of you know Coach Belin was our linebacker’s coach during the 2010 season and when I was in high school he and I really hit it off. He had me sold! He was almost identical to the man my father is and I wanted to feel at home. After that tech (yes little t) offered me. I had chosen to go on a Spring Break mission trip with my school to Namibia, Africa and help a town there and so I was off the map. While I was gone Georgia had called and told my dad that they wanted to offer me a scholarship and an hour after that South Carolina called and did the same. When I arrived back in Atlanta my dad told me I got two scholarships while I was gone and surprised me by pulling out a miniature helmet for both teams.
It was decision time and I was lost with what to do. My family was a USC family, I was in love with Coach Belin, but my heart bled red and black. My father and I had gotten in a fight about my plans to visit both USC and Vandy one weekend and it ended up with me just speaking from the heart that I wanted to go to Georgia. He said, “Ok then call them.” I was so happy to finally know where I wanted to go. I called Coach Searels and told him I was coming. He sounded kind of surprised since it was out of the blue on a Sunday and I didn’t make a big decision day like a lot of guys do.
I can honestly say that my decision to become a Dawg came down to two things. For starters, the University honestly is the greatest place on earth. I’ve made the best of friends that I would have missed out on and the greatest experiences that I would never trade for the world. Everyone involved with the football program really cares about us and wants the best even if sometimes it involves yelling at you when you mess up in matt drills in the middle of winter training. Its weird how the yelling is translated to extremely love, but that’s just what football kind of is. The second and final reason I chose to come to UGA has to do with the person at the top. I don’t think many people actually know or have heard this story, but it was at a Mark Richt camp after my sophomore year. My dad told me to pick between two camps for the summer and I chose UGA and South Carolina naturally. I went to the UGA camp and I had a blast. I was there with some of my buddies and loved the facilities. The main thing I took away from the visit was that Coach Richt really did care for me. He had no idea who I was or that I one day would be a decent football player. I actually didn’t do anything exceedingly special at the camp besides play around. He sold me when he just talked to me. He treated everyone as if they were important and had meaning to his life regardless of what they could bring to him as a football coach. After experiencing that we went to the USC camp with Coach Spurrier. Now I had had a previous experience with Coach Spurrier his first year at USC when I was not even 13 years old. I was a huge fan at the time because I loved watching him Coach for my dad’s professional team the Washington Redskins. I was so excited to meet him at a letterman’s reunion they held every year and my dad would let me tag along. Well I was ready and had a football in hand hustling up to him in the reunion to get it signed. He had just got done talking to an old player and had turned around to me who had a little football in outstretched hands eagerly awaiting his signature. It was at this moment he lost my commitment letter. He had turned and looked down to me seeing the ball and making eye contact with me and he just simply turned away and walked off. Not having very much self-confidence at the time I was crushed. I don’t remember if I walked back pouting and destroyed on the inside, but I know that I was no longer a USC fan. Junior year comes around and he had no recollection of this incident. He comes to GAC with a large group of coaches trying to sway me and my father simply by bringing the whole fleet. It was too late. I had made up my mind years earlier when I was a little boy. This is where the difference lies between the two coaches. To all the college coaches out there, the secret to getting recruits to come to your school is to start early and when I mean early its much more sooner than you think. You never really know whose watching and you also don’t know who those big time players are going to be down the road. Coaches have a responsibility to remember that. I in no way shape or form am saying I was an AJ Green type of player, but hey I got offers ha. That being said, Coach Richt had me sold from that moment and I made the greatest decision of my entire life.
I hope that those who expected this story to be about what had happened on Spring Break in Key West were sadly mistaken and ended up reading a little bit about my story. I think a lot of people miss out on the real reasons we chose to go to school where we do and often times the cameras and newspapers don’t get the whole story. So I chose to grab the computer and share my own story. I love Georgia and I love my team. I look forward to this season and the great road we have ahead of us.
And hey, I didn’t completely lie. I did end up talking about what happened on my Spring Break in the end.
++ Go Dawgs ++