Robinson ready to work way through NFL ranks

AddThis

Follow Keenan Robinson on Twitter and you can really pick the Texas linebacker’s brain.

He’s a realist.

“U better believe it’s gone bro,” Robinson (@KeenanRobinson1) tweeted earlier this month in response to fellow Longhorn Case McCoy, who lamented losing his iPad on an airplane.

He isn’t afraid to inquire for a little medical help from any one of his closest 4,662 friends.

“Man my ear won’t pop ... already tried the hold your nose thing,” he tweeted, followed immediately by more medical history.

“Yawning didnt work either,” which was immediately followed up with, “Think Im good now lol.”

The 6-foot-3, 242-pound senior is a work horse.

“Just got a nice lift in with my boy @thEMANacho [Emmanuel Acho]” he tweeted on April 12.

And he’s a popular guy, but strong-willed, as he won’t let indulging himself get in the way of his long term goals.

“Cant ... pro day coming up,” Robinson tweeted in response to former Longhorn and current Arizona defensive back Dan Buckner, who asked Robinson to join him and friends in Las Vegas a few days before his March 20 Pro Day workout.

But that doesn’t mean he won’t let go when it’s appropriate.

“Now that pro day is over ... it’s time to indulge at Ruth Chris [Steakhouse] with the fam #NoQuestion,” he said after Texas’ Pro Day, hash-tagged with his favorite saying, which declares absolute inevitability.

It was his first tweet of that day of course, because while he uses his micro-blog to divulge personal information and stay connected with fans and friends, he knows when football comes first.

The versatile linebacker has steadily improved over his time at Texas and was a key defensive anchor in his junior campaign and continued that trend his senior year. He is one of the Longhorns’ best NFL prospects in their 2012 class — poised to go somewhere in the second through fourth rounds — and it’s because of that continued emphasis on making football a priority. Even though he’s aware of his draft prospects, he’s not simply content with where he is now.

“For me, I am the hardest critic on myself,” he told the media after his Pro Day workout. “I feel like sometimes I play like a first rounder and sometimes I play like a fourth rounder or later. I am going to see where I go, and I feel that wherever I go it will be well deserved.

Robinson, a three-year starter, endured an arduous journey to climb into the leadership role he eventually assumed. He redshirted his freshman year in 2007 and only played a few snaps intermittently on special teams in 2008. In 2009, he broke through into a starting role and produced nicely, earning 74 total tackles in a year where Texas’ defense helped take it to the National Championship. His junior year, Robinson picked up not only his first two career interceptions and busted opposing offenses, recording 113 total tackles including 61 solo shots.

Although his numbers dipped slightly as a senior (106 total tackles in 2011), that didn’t stop scouts this season from seeing in the second-team All-Big 12 player what they knew all along. He proved that he is quick in space and can play all linebacker positions.

“[The scouts] know that I am a big, fast guy,” he said on Pro Day. “The thing for them is they have to pick what team wants me and where they want to put me since I play all three positions.”

After the NFL Combine in February, analysts said he could work on getting off blocks better, because once he gets jammed up by opposing linemen he often gets stuck. For a guy who is as active during the play as Robinson, it’s a wonder he was only able to record one sack last season.

But that’s no matter. The future professional knows he will get a chance to work his way through the NFL ranks like he did in college, and he was sure the Combine went well.

“Came to the combine ... accomplished just about all I wanted to accomplish ...” Robinson tweeted back in February.
Texas head coach Mack Brown knows how important Robinson was to his team the last three seasons, and how difficult he’ll be to replace.

“We have more to catch up on defense than most people say. We lost the two starting linebackers that we thought were good leaders,” Brown said of Robinson and fellow linebacker Emmanuel Acho. The two combined for the most tackles on the team each of the past two seasons.

Brown will not only need raw talent to fill Robinson’s shoes, but he’ll need someone with his work ethic and football-first mentality. Robinson seems to believe that his preparation at Texas is what makes him poised for a bright future at the next level. After all, he’s already let his friends know it.

“It feels good heading into the draft to know that there’s already been numerous Texas players to succeed in the NFL before me,” he tweeted early this month. No question.

Printed on Tuesday, April 24, 2012 as:Robinson proves to be NFL-ready