When he heard that his Washington Redskins had drafted Southern Methodist University guard Josh LeRibeus in the third round last Friday, second-year wide receiver Aldrick Robinson was excited about a reunion with his former college teammate.
Then, in last Saturday’s seventh round, the Redskins looked to SMU again, taking cornerback Richard Crawford and reuniting Robinson – Washington’s sixth-round pick in 2011 – with yet another former teammate.
“I hope I get a commission or something,” Robinson joked in a phone interview Wednesday. “I was putting in the good word, all right. I guess they’re trying to help me feel comfortable around here, bringing in some of my SMU guys.
“It’ll be real good to have them here,” Robinson continued. “We’ve got a lot of guys from the same school; guys from Miami, guys from Virginia Tech, and last year we drafted a lot of guys from Nebraska. So now I’ve got some SMU guys with me, too, with LeRibeus and Crawford.”
As a 71st overall pick, LeRibeus became the highest-drafted SMU player since defensive tackle Jerry Ball went 63rd overall to the Detroit Lions in 1987. He is expected to compete as a backup guard and center his rookie season. Meanwhile, Crawford – the 213th overall pick – is expected to try for a spot behind veterans DeAngelo Hall, Josh Wilson, Kevin Barnes, Leigh Torrence and second-year man Brandyn Thompson. Crawford also could compete at punt returner.
This is the first time that the Redskins have drafted SMU players in back-to-back years. But it’s the third time in franchise history that Washington has taken multiple SMU players in the same draft. In 1945, the Redskins drafted end Gabby Martin and tackle Sid Halliday, and in 1952 they selected center Dick Hightower and end Ben White.
This year’s selections represent the continued resurgence of the Mustangs, who had a total of four players drafted this year -- the most since 1985. The program has now had at least one player drafted in each of the last four drafts.
Robinson says the draft success is a credit to the work of SMU Coach June Jones and his staff.
“Coach Jones is a good recruiter and he does a great job of finding guys that some schools might pass on, and he forms them into good players, and he makes sure you’re ready for the NFL,” Robinson said.
“Coach Jones is kind of beaming into our minds that we can play at the next level,” he said.
Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said he had the chance to speak to Jones about each of this year’s players in great detail and believes that both can help the Redskins.
The Redskins coaches also spoke to Robinson about Crawford and LeRibeus leading up to the draft.
When asked on Wednesday for some inside information on each former teammate, Robinson laughed.
“Josh, he’s a kitchen! He eats up everything in sight,” Robinson said of the 6-foot-3, 312-pound LeRibeus. “He’s a real funny guy. And he’s real big into video games. … On the field, he’s a real strong dude. If he gets his hands on you, he’s going to move you wherever he wants you to go.”
LeRibeus missed the 2010 season because he was deemed academically ineligible after switching majors, and his weight ballooned to 70 pounds over his playing weight. Robinson, who continued to train at SMU last summer said he saw LeRibeus exhibit great dedication as he worked to get back in shape and regain his starting job in 2011.
“He was motivated. He had goals, and knew he could have success, and he made it happen,” Robinson said.
Robinson trained off and on with Crawford both last year and this offseason. He believes that Crawford, who transferred to SMU from Saddleback Community College, hasn’t come close to reaching his full potential as a defensive back.
“He’s real raw,” Robinson said. “Lots of talent, but he’s raw. If he gets the good coaching that we have here, he can really help us out.”
Robinson of course is aiming to help the Redskins in his second season. Last year represented an intense and lengthy learning experience for him. He spent the majority of the year on the practice squad before getting promoted to the 53-man roster during the final week of the season.
Robinson said he is eager for more this year.
“I’ve got to make a difference this year,” he says. “I’ve got to help this team, and help make us better, whether it’s special teams, receiving – just some kind of way.”
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