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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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‘I stand on the shoulders of a lot of people’

Texas+A%26amp%3BM+interim+head+coach+Elijah+Robinson+walks+out+of+his+first+win+38-10+during+Texas+A%26amp%3BMs+game+against+ACU+on+Saturday%2C+Nov.+18%2C+2023+at+Kyle+Field.+%28Ishika+Samant%2FThe+Battalion%29
Photo by Ishika Samant

Texas A&M interim head coach Elijah Robinson walks out of his first win 38-10 during Texas A&M’s game against ACU on Saturday, Nov. 18, 2023 at Kyle Field. (Ishika Samant/The Battalion)

Elijah Robinson never planned on being a coach. In fact, after the discovery of a spinal condition in spring practice of 2006 while he was a player at Penn State, Robinson said he considered going into marketing when he found out his playing days were over.
On Saturday, Nov. 18, Robinson ran out of the tunnel not only as Texas A&M football’s defensive line coach, but as its interim head coach.
After the firing of coach Jimbo Fisher, Athletic Director Ross Bjork said that when looking for an interim coach, the first person he turned to was Robinson.
“I don’t think there’s a more qualified person to have taken over the job,” senior linebacker Sam Matthews said. “Coach E-Rob, he’s done a great job getting all the guys rallied around them. Getting them motivated, hungry.”
Robinson began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at his alma mater. He then became the defensive line coach at Temple, where he stayed from 2014-16. In his final season with the Owls, Robinson led Temple’s defense to a top-25 ranking, posting 40 sacks on the season.
After following coach Matt Rhule to Baylor for a season, Robinson was hired as the Aggies’ defensive line coach in 2018. Since then, the Camden, New Jersey native has elevated the Maroon and White’s defensive line to a national level, including bringing in a 2021 recruiting class which included five-star defensive lineman like Walter Nolen, Shemar Stewart and L.T. Overton.
Despite the 28-point victory, things did not start out smooth for the Aggies. On the first offensive possession, sophomore quarterback Jaylen Henderson — who made his second career start — was drilled in the back by sophomore ACU DL Reese Young, sending the ball flying into the waiting hands of junior ACU LB Cirby Coheley, who returned the interception for a 51-yard score.
The Aggies tied it up the following possession with a 7-yard rush from freshman running back Reuben Owens.
Owens had his best performance of the season against the Wildcats, rushing for 106 yards on 5.9 yards per carry. He also becomes the first freshman to eclipse the 100-yard rushing mark since Devon Achane in 2021.
“[Owens is] talented,” Robinson said. “He’s a guy that trusts the process. He has a great position coach that constantly gets him better. You see as the weeks go on, he got better and better and he ran the ball really well today.”
Despite the early struggles, A&M broke the game open in the third quarter, as Henderson hit junior wide receiver Moose Muhammad III down the middle of the field for a 49-yard score, the Aggies’ longest receiving touchdown this season.
Muhammad, who was the star in last year’s game against LSU, has had limited production this season, but nearly doubled his seasons’ receiving yards against ACU alone.
The Charlotte, North Carolina native racked up 104 receiving yards with 31 yards after the catch, which included a grab in the third quarter where Muhammad reared back, secured the ball with one hand and promptly hurdled a defender for a 38-yard completion.
After building a substantial lead, Robinson surprised the Aggies in attendance on the ensuing kickoff. A&M sent out a kickoff team composed entirely of walk-ons, paying respect to both the famous 1980’s 12th Man kickoff team, who was also honored at halftime, and all the seniors who were playing their last game in Kyle Field.
“[The walk-on kickoff] was special,” Matthews said. “Being a walk-on, obviously me and the other walk-ons have a life-long bond that not a lot of people will share. They put in the same work and don’t get the same recognition. So, I was blessed to be out there and just lead them on the field and just get the opportunity to go watch them do the thing they’ve been working their tail off their whole career to even get a play.”
The Aggies finished off the Wildcats 38-10, marking Robinson’s first victory as a head coach and the last victory at home for seniors like WR Ainias Smith, LB Chris Russel Jr. and DL Mckinnley Jackson.
“I’m trying to be where my feet are,” Smith said. “Keep moving, keep pushing forward, not really letting the moment get too big. That’s what I was trying to do today, not let the moment get too big. Yeah, it’s the last game at Kyle Field, but you’re still playing a game.”
After the win, Robinson said it felt natural to be on the field in the head coaching position, and that all of A&M’s personnel helped make him comfortable in the position. He also said that with today’s win, he reflected on his journey to get where he is today.
“I stand on the shoulders of a lot of people,” Robinson said. “I appreciate those people that prepared me for today … I go back to when I went to my first football camp. I borrowed $60 from my sister, I used my other sister’s Pontiac and then my mother gave me gas money so I could make it down to a camp. There’s a lot of people who sacrificed for me to get to this point.”
A&M will now face one of its toughest tests of the season next week, going on the road to Baton Rouge, Louisiana to face off against the No. 15 LSU.
“I think we’re ready for [LSU],” Matthews said. “We’re not scared, we’re ready to attack every day. We’re just going to take it day by day … There’s nothing really LSU can do. You can worry about it all you want, but you’re not making any progress towards your goals.”

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