While the focus of conversation has gravitated to Jaguars rookie running back James Robinson’s quiet demeanor, his confidence in himself came off crystal clear when speaking to the media via video conference on Friday.
Although, he didn’t talk very much, it was obvious that being the starting running back this Sunday isn’t too big for him, at the end of the day, it’s all still football.
“I just think of it like it’s still football,” Robinson said of making such a leap, from the FCS to starting in the NFL in a short amount of time. “You still have to go out there and do what you have to do, do what you do in practice so it relates over to the game. That’s about it.”
Robinson has always been confident in his abilities, simply letting his play do the talking. Coming out of high school, he wasn’t recruited very much, setting the stage for an opportunity that presented itself at Illinois State.
While many high-school athletes take their talents to various camps to showcase themselves for college recruits, Robinson didn’t bother, “I just didn’t like to. I felt like it really didn’t do anything for me.”
At Illinois State, Robinson rushed for 4,444 yards and 44 touchdowns in four years. During his senior season, he rushed for 1,899 yards and 18 touchdowns, the third and fourth-most in a single season in the Missouri Valley Football Conference.
Even while putting up a respectable performance at the 2020 NFL Combine, Robinson did not get drafted, and only had two teams really vying for his services. While he admitted everyone wants to get drafted, once it didn’t happen, he was simply thankful the Jaguars called.
“After the draft, [Running Backs] Coach [Terry] Robiskie called me before the last pick and said that he was going to try to get them to draft me, but he wasn’t going to make any promises,” said Robinson. “I said, ‘Okay’, but at that point I was just looking to get on the field somewhere. Another team that called me was the [San Francisco] 49ers and that was really the only two.”
After signing with the Jaguars as an undrafted free agent in April, Robinson made it a goal to simply do what he can to contribute, whether that be special teams or otherwise, simply a way to make it on the team.
On cut-down day, Robinson didn’t realize he had made the Jaguars’ 53-man roster. In a hotel room watching TV and FaceTiming with his family, Robinson found out the news when they began to erupt, seeing that he made the roster via social media, another day at the office it appears for the rookie running back.
A family-oriented individual, Robinson only wants to do what he can to support them. Making it in the NFL will do that, however, he hasn’t made it just yet. He still needs to play and perform on Sunday, he says.
“I’m in a position to try to take care of them, well, I will take care of them, but it’s a long season and I still have to continue to work hard and just go out there and help my team.”
Not many fans or media members know much about Robinson’s game. He wasn’t on very many televisions, and if he was, not many people tune in to watch the FCS play football, quite frankly, but when asked to describe his top three traits, Robinson pointed to vision, vision, making the first guy miss and acceleration through the hole.
Much of that is clear as day if one were to watch a couple of highlight reels of his games.
#Jaguars RB James Robinson said his favorite run was during his junior season against Western Illinois.. not sure if this is it, but this is impressive h/t @KassidyGHill for asking the question: pic.twitter.com/7OBtaPu3OQ— Demetrius Harvey (@Demetrius82) September 11, 2020
Still, even with all of the outside noise, and the pressure that comes with it, Robinson isn’t phased by starting on Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts. It hasn’t quite hit him yet, he says.
“I always kind of go about things the same way. I’m quiet, so I don’t really let things get to me. So, I mean no, it hasn’t.”
Asked if he’s ready for Sunday, Robinson replied succinctly, “Yeah, of course.”
Over the course of the past several weeks, Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone made sure to study Robinson closely. While he was performing well in training camp, there have been no preseason games, no real games play to determine whether or not a guy can play. Because of that, Marrone decided to go back and watch all of Robinson’s college tape; each snap, each game.
“I watched all the things he can do and then I went back and just started watching him in practice,” Marrone told members of the media on Friday. “Then, a lot of the meetings were like, ‘Hey listen, this guy’s a free agent. Do you think he’s ready for a Sunday?’ All I kept saying was, ‘Look I watched everything and there’s nothing that’s showing us that he’s not going to be’ and that’s why I feel very comfortable about where he is.”