ATHLETE OF THE WEEK

Prep’s Robinson: Marauders’ little big man

St. Peter’s Prep senior linebacker Drew Robinson
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St. Peter’s Prep senior linebacker Drew Robinson

Sometimes, high school football rosters can be so misleading, especially when it comes to a player’s listed height and weight.

There are times that those numbers are embellished, inflated to make a player look bigger than what he legitimately is.

When it comes to St. Peter’s Prep senior linebacker Drew Robinson, it’s hard to know what numbers to believe.

According to the official roster, Robinson is listed at 5-foot-8 and weighs 190 pounds. According to Prep veteran head coach Rich Hansen, Robinson stands more like 5-foot-9 and weighs that same 190.

“He doesn’t know he’s 5-9,” Hansen said. “And he really doesn’t care. He plays with zero fear. That’s the biggest tribute you can give to the kid.”

Robinson believes he’s closer to 5-foot-10 and weighs 198 pounds – and that was even before Robinson sat down with his family to Thanksgiving dinner last week.

The reality of it all is that Robinson is more than likely shorter and lighter than what has been reported.

But like his coach says, Robinson has no concept of playing to his size.

“I can do anything that anyone taller and bigger than me can do,” Robinson said. “I take advantage of my size. I’m really smart. I’m never afraid of competition. I’ll run right through you and bring you down if I can.”

When Robinson arrived at St. Peter’s Prep a little more than three years ago, he was going to play football like his older brother, J.R., who went on to play NCAA Division I football at Delaware State.

But unlike J.R. Robinson, who is taller than his little brother, Drew Robinson was born to be a linebacker. J.R. Robinson played in the secondary, both at Grand and Warren and at Delaware State.

“As soon as I got to Prep, I knew I was going to be a linebacker,” Drew Robinson said. “My brother means everything to me. He’s one of the reasons why I wanted to come to Prep.”

No one would dare talk Drew out of playing the physically demanding slot of being a MIKE linebacker. It’s the position that Ronald Robinson taught his son when he was a youngster growing up in Irvington and later Hillside.

Ronald Robinson was a long-time Pop Warner football coach in Irvington.

“He was the first person to introduce us to sports,” Drew Robinson said of his father. “He taught me and my brother.”

Ronald Robinson also coached his nephew, Brandon Robinson, who now plays quarterback at Liberty University in Virginia.

But about seven years ago, tragedy struck the Robinson family. Ronald Robinson died of heart failure after suffering a series of strokes. He was only 42 years old.

“I didn’t know how to react when my father died,” Drew Robinson said. “I saw my brother cry, so I knew it was serious. The next best father figure I had was my brother. He was the one I looked up to.”

However, Drew Robinson was not going to be a defensive back like his older brother. No way, no how. He was a linebacker, regardless of his size.

“He just loves the game of football,” Hansen said. “He loves playing. He’s a physical kid who doesn’t shy away from contact. He’s always motoring and believes in what we do. He also is the team’s mouthpiece in practice. He keeps everyone up and going. He never has a down day. He practices with a chip on his shoulder and makes his teammates understand they’re playing football.”

Which means – if it’s time to hit live in practice, you’re going to know Drew Robinson is on the field, even if you’re his teammate. He’s going to hit you and hit you hard.

“He does what a MIKE linebacker is supposed to do,” Hansen said. “He’s a lunch pail, blue-collar guy. And he just loves the game.”

Last Friday night, the Marauders were facing St. Augustine Prep in the semifinals of the NJSIAA Non-Public Group 4 state tournament and with approximately five minutes remaining, the Marauders were trailing, 28-21.

For all intents and purposes, Robinson’s high school career had five minutes left to it.

“I remember we were struggling a little in the second half,” Robinson said. “But I went into the [defensive] huddle and said, ‘We can still win. Remember that. We can still win.’ I told them all that I loved them and that it wasn’t going to be our last game.”

Robinson made sure his teammates heard that message. They made the defensive stop to get the ball back, tied the game with three minutes left and won on the final snap of the game, taking a 35-28 victory to move on to the NJSIAA Non-Public Group 4 title game this Friday night at MetLife Stadium in the Meadowlands against Don Bosco Prep.

Robinson had perhaps the best game of his high school career, collecting 12 tackles, leading the Marauders to the come-from-behind victory.

For his efforts, Robinson has been selected as The Hudson Reporter Athlete of the Week for the past week.

During the game, Robinson showed his fearlessness by taking on St. Augustine’s massive fullback Isaiah Raikes, the 6-foot-1, 325-pound man-child headed to play next fall at Texas A&M.

On three different occasions, Raikes took a handoff and looked to bust it off-tackle and into the Marauder secondary. But Robinson saw nothing of it, taking on the much larger Raikes and hauling him down to the turf, twice for a loss of yardage.

“I wanted that challenge,” Robinson said. “I was more excited to tackle him [Raikes]. I wanted that chance to hit him.”

“He did a great job of tackling Friday,” Hansen said. “He did a tremendous job in his fits, where he fit in with the schemes. He was excellent.”

Robinson was just loving life as a Prep grid standout, playing alongside All-American Cody Simon among the Prep linebackers.

“We have made each other great players,” Robinson said of Simon. “We always play together. We’re just ballin’, playing football.”

“He’s a good student,” Hansen said. “He’s in school every day and works hard. He always has a smile on his face. He’s a character, a funny kid who fits the bill of joking around and getting others to laugh. There are no red flags about him at all.”

Robinson gives credit to his strong family life, the support he has received from his older brother and his mother, Shelby.

“My brother always told me that I was going to be a Prep captain my senior year,” Drew Robinson said. “He said that I was a leader. I always felt like I was a leader. I always feel like I do things like a leader. When I was named captain, it was an honor for me. I just wanted to the best I could, honoring my brother and my father. They’re always in the back of my mind. But my mother, she’s very influential. He taught me how to do practically everything. I owe it all to her.”

Even if means taking on guys much bigger. – Jim Hague

Jim Hague can be reached via e-mail at OGSMAR@aol.com