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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Answering the call: Ivan Robinson

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Tanner Garza — THE BATTALION

The Chick-fil-a Bowl last year ended an up-and-down season in appropriate fashion. The Johnny Manziel era concluded as he led the Aggies from behind to defeat the Duke Blue Devils 52-48 in an instant classic.
However, the game meant something darker for then-junior defensive lineman Ivan Robinson, as pain in his Achilles tendons made him realize it may be the last game of his career.
“The pain after the Duke game was — I couldn’t even explain it, it was so bad,” Robinson said. “I was talking to my mom, ‘Hey Mom, look, I think I’m done. This other one was going to pop too.’”
Robinson first injured his Achilles while participating in spring conditioning drills in 2013.
“I was doing spring drills,” Robinson said. “A normal drill, everyday drill, and I hopped over the bag and went to run forward and it popped.”
The injury stuck with Robinson, culminating with the post-game realization at the Chick-fil-a Bowl. Robinson met with doctors and began to come to terms with the fact that he may be hanging his cleats up early.
“It was one of those, ‘I need to be safe here,’” Robinson said. “I need to walk when I’m 40.”
In fact, Robinson was so sure his football career was over that he dropped roughly 30 pounds from his 290-pound frame by the spring of 2014. A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin joked with him about his skinnier physique, which Robinson credited as preparation for a vacation he had planned.
“I was getting ready for my cruise next spring,” Robinson said. “I was already motivated to get ready for that. I had no idea I would be out here playing football again. I was getting ready, trying to get the six-pack. [Sumlin] was right — I was trying to turn into a model.”
Robinson reached out to his old football coach from his playing days at South Beauregard High School in Longville, La., for advice.
“I went back to my high school coach,” Robinson said. “He really helped me get my college career started. He sent me to the LSU camp to kind of get my name out there. I went and called him and sat down and we had a conversation about, you need to take care of yourself, but don’t be that guy that’s like, ‘What if I would have?’ so I kind of took that to heart and thought about it.”
Ultimately, Robinson could not stay away from the team he had been on since 2010.
“It was one of those, ‘Hey, I’m going to keep playing no matter the pain,’” Robinson said. “When you have friends that are on the team and you love them like your brothers, you’ll come back out there and fight for them.”
Robinson expressed his intent to play this season over a phone call with defensive line coach Terry Price. In doing so, Robinson instantly stepped into a leadership role with his ability to offer insight to younger players with his experiences in both football and overcoming injury. For Robinson, though, it was only a matter of reciprocating the same mentorship that he received when he was an underclassman.
“I’ve been watching — since I’ve been here for five years — how the seniors when I got here would communicate with us and how much it helped,” Robinson said. “When I stepped out there for the first time, I stepped out there with Von [Miller], and he took me up under his wing and helped me out. When you get out there as a freshman, you’re nervous. There are thousands of people screaming your name. You’ve got a guy over there that’s trying to rip your head off. You need somebody that’s going to give you confidence and help you so you can make a play. I try to help [the freshmen] out as much as possible.”
Robinson’s role on this year’s team has not been limited to leadership, as he received his first start of the season against Arkansas. He made seven tackles, the most notable of which came in overtime as part of the four-down defensive stand that sealed the A&M win.
“We needed some older players to step up and there were some unsung heroes,” Sumlin said. “Ivan Robinson doesn’t get enough credit for playing 58 snaps in that game.”
Robinson was also proud of the way the defense rallied in the fourth quarter and overtime of the Southwest Classic. His tackle in overtime was more than just another addition to the stat sheet — it was representative of his emotional football comeback.
“It felt good,” Robinson said. “Just to see us come together at the end and make a play like that and stop them and get a win felt great for me, especially seeing that I didn’t even think I would be out there with them.”

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