Military Bowl: Five more things about Matt Robinson

December 24, 2013

(AP Photo/The News & Observer, Ethan Hyman)

In today’s print edition, a profile of linebacker Matt Robinson, who has overcome several serious injuries and a positional switch to enjoy an immensely productive junior season for the Maryland football team. Here are some leftovers from the reporting stages, compiled in the form of five things you might not have known about Matt Robinson.

1. His mother is a Howard County judge but also the unofficial team mom:

Pamila Brown keeps a roster of team parents for several purposes. If anyone needs a carpool or information about parking, seats or shuttle services, Brown is the woman everyone to contact. This list also comes in handy if a player gets hurt during a road game and needs hospital transport.

“All the parents love her and stuff,” Robinson said, in typical son fashion. ‘It’s so weird.”

“That’s me, I guess,” Brown said.

Her profession also brought Robinson “the most annoying thing in my life.” His father, Chris Robinson, works as an administrator in the Prince George’s County Parks and Recreation department — not remotely related to law or the courts – but that didn’t stop Matt’s friends from always joking, “Who’s your dad? Judge Joe Brown?”

This also somewhat informs Robinson’s outlook on life — and perhaps his demeanor on the football field.

“Everyone says my mom’s the nicest person, but she’s so different in the courtroom,” he said. “She’s fierce. Her presence in the courtroom is so different than if you were to meet her right now. Sweetest lady, always nice to everybody. Then in court it’s a wholly different mindset. I always thought that was the funniest thing. Oh your mom’s so nice. Yeah but have you seen her in court, though?”

2. His only semester under Ralph Friedgen feels like yesterday:

“That was like eight semesters ago,” he said. “There many things have changed since then, so it feels longer because of the different people who have been in Gossett, how things are have changed, so you started thinking back, hey remember when you could do this, or remember when we lived in Leonardtown freshman summer, things like that. We’ll refer to old coaches and old stories about that first semester.

“Even though it was one semester, I feel like I have a lot of memories from it. I think that’s why it feels so long ago, because you create more and more memories each semester. It was like you crammed all these memories into one semester, then under this regime it’s been spaced out over time. You can remember bits and pieces, but I feel like I remember everything from that year.”

3. He’s rather hard on himself:

Robinson finished fourth on the team in tackles, third in tackles for a loss and first in fumble recoveries. A legitimate argument could be made that, given the discrepancy between the defense’s production with and without Robinson the field, that he was one of the team’s most valuable players.

Asked to evaluate his season, he gave himself a B-minus.

“I feel like my production wasn’t as great as I would have liked it,” he said. “Everybody will look at the numbers and things like that. I think I should have had way more. That’s just me. I could have made more plays than I didn’t make. Being able to help the younger guys learn and stuff was more important to me and all the stats.”

4. Wake Forest wide receiver Michael Campanaro helped convince him to play college football:

Maryland fans know Michael Campanaro well. He grew up in Clarksville, Md., attended River Hill High School and joined the Demon Deacons, where he became an all-ACC pass-catching machine. He and Robinson played on the same youth football league teams, along with current Maryland safety Zach Dancel and Virginia’s E.J. Scott.

Robinson can take the story from here.

“I was talking to Mike, and he was good at basketball too, he was like football has more opportunities,” he said. “When he said that to me, there are more scholarships available, I was like yeah you’re right. I started taking my focus away from basketball.

“After my freshman year of high school I went to some prep basketball camps, trying to get scouted and all that stuff. Wasn’t hearing a lot back from other schools or more smaller schools, so I was like dang, Then I was thinking about football, what I could do with that. There were more scholarships, I was doing the combine circuit, I realized I needed to be putting my focus into football.

“I still played both sports all the way through high school. I still never really focused on one, so to speak, as far as only preparing for that sport. I still had to prepare for both. That’s why I still took a little longer for my body to develop too.”

5. He wants to play linebacker in the NFL:

“I think I’m big enough to play linebacker,” he said. “If I can use this offseason to get stronger, I could be more comfortable about being physical and being in the box more. That’s where I would be playing if I could make it to the next level.”

The story addresses the unfortunate case of Kenneth Tate, once projected as a second- or third-round NFL draft pick at safety who, after undergoing the same position switch that Robinson did, never quite recovered his form. Tate wound up finishing out his college career with injury-plagued 2011 and 2012 seasons, and was brought up almost ad nauseum when Robinson was going through the same thing this spring.

Robinson said he could play safety if the next level demanded it, but he’s enjoyed so much success at linebacker, he would like to say.

“I think I could, but I think I’d need like a week or two to practice it, just to get back in the flow of things,” he said. “During the time we had off, we’d be outside playing 7 on 7. I could tell my footwork and my brakes weren’t as crisp as they needed to be in order to play safety. I think I could, but I’d probably have to cut some weight and work on my speed. I think I could, but I don’t really see the need to.”

Alex Prewitt covers the Washington Capitals. Follow him on Twitter @alex_prewitt or email him at alex.prewitt@washpost.com.
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Alex Prewitt · December 23, 2013

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