Maryland quarterback Jamarr Robinson drawing raves for his poise

By Eric Prisbell
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, August 21, 2010; 1:56 AM

During Monday's Maryland football scrimmage, Terrapins Coach Ralph Friedgen urged his quarterback to organize the huddle but, as he often does, referred to him incorrectly as Jamal. With down and distance and a play call swirling in his mind, Jamarr Robinson turned toward his coach and said, matter-of-factly, "Jamarr."

"For all the stuff he has got to be thinking about, he is correcting me on how I call his name," Friedgen said. "So I would say he is pretty poised."

Maryland coaches and players rave about Robinson's athleticism, which will allow the Terrapins to diversify their offense this season. They talk up his arm strength, which offensive coordinator James Franklin calls "special." But how smoothly the offense functions could hinge on his ability to lead and remain cool under center.

Friedgen said Robinson so far has exceeded his expectations as the fourth-year junior prepares to start the season-opening Sept. 6 game against Navy after starting two games last season. Yet coaches said his evolution remains a work in progress.

Robinson, a native of Charlotte, is among the most popular players on the team, well liked and respected. He is laid-back, not particularly loud and has a dry sense of humor. He exudes a quiet confidence, according to coaches, and the role of vocal leader does not come naturally for him.

Franklin has talked to several players, including Robinson, about the importance of body language and appearing in command. He correlated it to asking a woman for her phone number, saying that if you ask meekly then "you're not getting the number," Franklin said. "You have to exude that confidence and show everybody you are in control. Leadership is so, so important, especially at the quarterback position."

It is particularly important on an offense that is expected to feature only three seniors - wide receiver Adrian Cannon, center Paul Pinegar and running back Da'Rel Scott - in the starting lineup. A large responsibility rests with Robinson to lead, and he knows it. He said his demeanor changes when he gets in the huddle.

"I try to be laid-back, but when I go in the huddle, people want to have conversation, people want to tell me to throw them the ball," Robinson said. "I have to change my ego and turn into the enforcer: 'I have to run this play. I can't let you all keep talking.' "

Friedgen has been as impressed with Robinson's control in the huddle as he has been with his performance on the field. In the scrimmage, Robinson completed 6 of 11 passes for 146 yards and threw two touchdown passes. Among his only mistakes: He took a sack in the red zone.

"I am a lot more comfortable," Robinson said. "I get more confidence every day in what we are doing. Just going over it over and over and over. It is making it more second nature to me."

Robinson was admittedly "jumpy and nervous" when he was thrust into a game last season at North Carolina State in place of injured starter Chris Turner. Robinson calmed down but again felt jitters the next week during the first start of his career against Virginia Tech.

He rushed for 129 yards - the third-highest total by a Maryland quarterback - and the next week completed 20 of 27 passes for 213 yards at Florida State. The good news: He has yet to throw an interception in 85 pass attempts. The bad: He has yet to lead Maryland to victory.

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