Inside linebacker Christian Robinson wants to become a coach when his playing career ends, and his time at Georgia has prepared him well.
This season, he has learned more about making the most of limited opportunities rather than basking in the glory of the highlight reels, which will be valuable experience when he has to explain to his own players how everybody on a team has a role to fill.
“It’s been a get in where you fit in-type thing,” Robinson said. “Ever since I’ve been here, the coaches have been very good about putting me in where they think I can be successful and where I can help. It might not always show up in stats. It might show up in how well we line up and play from there. Some of my best games, I didn’t even have a tackle. It’s whether I was covering somebody and allowed Jarvis (Jones) to make a sack or somebody else to make a play. Making plays is all relative. I think I’ve made a lot of plays that people will never know about.”
Robinson made four starts and had 47 total tackles in 2011 despite an early-season broken foot. This year his statistics have diminished with 31 tackles. He went through a stretch of eight games when he didn’t make more that two. Last week against option-oriented Georgia Southern, he had maybe biggest statical game since the second week of the season with five total tackles, including two for losses.
“I think he’s had a pretty good season,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said. “I think he’s led all the way through. He’s had a tremendously positive attitude. When he’s getting his opportunities to play, he’s played well. He’s been playing more nickel stuff. This last game he was a starter and played a lot and played well. He made a bunch of tackles. He’s just very good at identifying things and trying to communicate it with his teammates. He’s always there with a smile on his face and ready to go to work. He’s just a great guy.”
Although Robinson has spent more time in the backdrop than the limelight this season, it all goes down as lessons learned in order to become a better coach when his time comes.
“People who don’t really understand team football will look at it like, if you’re not making tackles, you’re unsuccessful,” Robinson said. “Even if you’re not making tons of visible plays — SportsCenter-like plays — and getting mentioned and a lot of stuff. You can make an impact if you get into a meeting room and the coach mentions that you took on a block that allowed somebody else to make a play or if you held off a route long enough for a sack. I come from a coach’s family, and those type of things win games. If I came here for personal stats, I’d probably be unsatisfied. But what we’ve done this year and what we have the opportunity to do, I’ll take that over tackles.”
Robinson showed his quick mind early in his career when he became one of the first players to grasp Todd Grantham’s 3-4 defense. He helped the rest of the team understand its concepts as it went through the sometimes-rocky transition.
Robinson interned last summer with Oconee County High football coach Mitch Olson. Several former Georgia players are high school coaches in the Athens area, including Prince Avenue Christian head coach Mark Farriba. Recent Georgia graduates Brandon Miller and Chester Adams are on Terry Tuley’s staff at North Oconee, while Marcus Washington is on Leroy Ryals’ staff at Clarke Central.
“I can definitely see coaching in his future,” Georgia defensive end Garrison Smith said. “He’s very knowledgeable of the game. He’s a student of the game. He’ll learn everything. I know in the future he’ll be able to go teach other players what he knows and help them and develop them. He’s a positive guy. I never see him doing too many crazy things. I know he’ll be a good role model and example to others.”
Robinson is a senior who is within one project and one final exam of graduating with a sports management degree in December. When Georgia plays Georgia Tech on Saturday, it will be his last game in Sanford Stadium, and he’s started to feel sentimental about it.
“I’m one of the guys who’s been feeling like that for a while,” Robinson said. “A lot of guys don’t want to talk about it. A lot of them just want to focus on the goals and finish out the season. But I love this place (Georgia). It’s been the best time of my life. I really don’t want to leave. But it’s going to come to an end and I’m going to enjoy every minute of it.”