Robinson made his first career pick (USA Today)
Three days before the start of the 2013 season, LSU didn't even know if it would have Rashard Robinson available. On Saturday the freshman cornerback locked down one of the nation's best receivers in Texas A&M's Mike Evans. Robinson discusses his big game inside.
Among the most profound words from the mouth of Les Miles following his Tigers’ 34-10 win over Texas A&M was a declaration of sorts that things between the lines Saturday were a lot more like they used to be around these parts.
“That’s the kind of LSU defense we’re used to,” Miles reflected.
If the defensive prowess – and ultimately the outcome – seemed more familiar to Miles, it’s because John Chavis’ group took on a more vintage feel against Texas A&M. The stingy LSU defense held Johnny Manziel and the Aggies to 299 total yards and only 224 yards through the air, both well below A&M’s season averages.
Perhaps the biggest difference in this game, easily the Tigers’ best defensive showing of the 2013 season, was a trustworthy secondary, highlighted by cover corners Chavis and the rest of LSU’s staff could blindly trust on an island.
Enter Rashard Robinson.
The true freshman, who hails from the same Florida high school as Patrick Peterson, was given the unenviable task of manning up star Texas A&M wide-out Mike Evans, and the youngster came up aces. The 6-foot-5 Evans finished with only four catches for 51 yards, 38 of which came late in the fourth quarter with the home team up 24 points.
“Coach Chavis and Coach Corey [Raymond], they were telling me all day just what to do,” Robinson said after the game of guarding Evans, “don’t lose your composure, play fundamentals, be fundamentally sound and go out there and have fun.”
LSU’s head coach saw a first-year player that simply craves competition, a freshman for whom no stage is too big.
“Evans is a tremendous player. Rashard Robinson likes the competition,” explained Miles. “He wants it to play against the best. When you put him in that position, I like our chances.”
And to think, Robinson wearing purple and gold almost didn’t happen. The Pompano Beach native saw his status dangling in the air, in the hands of the NCAA Clearinghouse, until just three days before LSU’s opener against TCU. It was, to say the least, an unnerving time for the player.
“At first I had some doubts, but after that I was praying every night, just staying humble and just waiting for my chance,” recalled Robinson. “I was getting at least some kind of workout in over the summer.”
Since joining the team, Robinson’s role has increased exponentially, growing from somebody most outsiders considered a redshirt possibility to part-time nickel back to, now, LSU’s most reliable cover corner.
Robinson, a naturally gifted athlete, showers a lot of the credit for his maturation on his teammates.
“My progression has increased a lot because I came here late and everything. I’ve just been working hard,” continued Robinson. “Jalen Mills and the rest of my teammates have told me what I need to work on, and we get extra practice in after we get done practicing. So it’s just (been about) getting the extra work, work on my fundamentals, staying square and staying low, really just being fundamentally sound.”
All the hard work resulted in a start against the Aggies, even if Robinson wasn’t sure it would happen in the moments leading up to kickoff. “First play of the game, they called nickel, so I knew it was my time then.”
His lockdown performance (which included his first career interception), coupled with the emergence of fellow freshman corner Tre’Davious White and unexpected time for frosh Rickey Jefferson at safety, has Robinson very optimistic about the future and LSU’s chances at resurrecting DBU.
“Today was big,” Robinson said. “We’ve got a bright future, me and my teammates, because we’re just getting the bond together so every time we’re out on the field it’ll be like clockwork.”
Another driving influence in Robinson’s development, and his ability to check a player the caliber of Evans, is what No. 21 sees across the line of scrimmage in practice every day. Chasing around the likes of Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry is enough to prepare any young corner for the worst, according to Robinson.
“I give a lot of credit to those guys as well because they pushed me every day – just the whole receiving corps because we have great receivers,” Robinson concluded. “They pushed me every day to go out and just play. They’ll tell me after every play what I need to work on. They’ll tell me if I have my hand in too long and stuff like that, telling me to stay square, stay low, move my hips, when to and not to open my hips. All that stuff.”
Now the monster that they created, and the NCAA set free just in time this fall, is the rest of the SEC’s problem.
Robinson comes up huge against Evans
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