COVINGTON, Ga. — When Adrian and Andrae Robinson showed up on the Alcovy High School campus as incoming freshmen there were scores of people, including coaches, who could easily rave about the talent of the Robinson twins.
As time has gone and Alcovy has struggled on the football field, both Robinson brothers have shown ample flashes to corroborate people’s assessment of their giftedness. But sometimes when a team isn’t producing in the win column, it can be difficult for even the most obvious standout players to grab that coveted college recruiting attention.
Add to that the fact that both brothers have battled injuries throughout their high school careers, and it wouldn’t be a stretch to call their high school careers a bit frustrating at times.
Adrian, for example, missed most of 2018 with a broken collarbone — an injury sustained from a hit from teammate Demetrius Thrower (Thrower recently got his first college offer, by the way, from Lawrence University).
The last time Adrian saw the field in meaningful action was his 2017 sophomore season when he showed promise as a strong safety while compiling 37 tackles and breaking up three passes.
But anyone willing to talk about the 5-foot-10, 185-pound rising senior will tell you that there’s much more in Robinson than that smattering of sophomore season progress.
Count new Alcovy football coach Jason Dukes among the willing.
“I’m so proud of Adrian Robinson,” Dukes said. “I’m proud of the progress he’s making and the work he’s putting in to be better.”
Then Dukes described the play of Robinson’s offseason, so far, that best exemplifies Adrian’s drive to make his last year in high school count.
It happened during Alcovy’s 7-0 spring game win over Woodland last month. Adrian drifted out into the flat from his wideout position and prepared to take a screen pass from quarterback MJ Stroud. A few seconds later, Adrian was making a bee line to the end zone for the Tigers’ only score.
But it wasn’t just the fact that he scored that caught Dukes’ attention. It was how Robinson did it.
“He caught that touchdown pass, and instead of dancing around, he just put his foot in the grass and took it straight to the house,” Dukes said. “He’s one of those guys who’s giving us all the things we’re looking for right now in terms of level of focus and commitment to getting better and not hurting themselves on the field, and I love it.”
So does Adrian Robinson.
As far as he’s concerned, the tunnel vision he displayed on that spring game trip to the end zone embodies the approach the Alcovy standout wants to take heading into his last high school hurrah.
“It felt great to score like that, because it just showed how I just wanted to come back stronger than last year,” Robinson said. “Since last yea I had a goal to make an all-state team, and I didn’t get to do it, so this year I said I’ve gotta come back stronger. I’ve gotta make all state this year and put myself in position to where I can come back stronger and come back faster. And I feel like all the tools I gained during my injury have propelled me to the next level.”
Yes, that’s right. As painful as both the injury and the lost junior season was, Robinson said it could prove to be the best thing to happen to him in his young football career.
“Mentally, I’m stronger,” he said. “I have a better IQ for the game. When you’re hurt, you know, you can’t do anything but watch film and develop an eye for the game. And that made me want to work harder so that I could get stronger and not get injured again. But also, the way I look at it, I got in those mental reps that, if I didn’t get injured, I may not have taken those mental reps as seriously.”
Although Robinson seems poised to impress as one of Alcovy’s star defensive backs, he knows that Dukes and the new coaching staff will be looking to utilize his athleticism virtually any and everywhere he’s needed on the field.
Robinson doesn’t mind it though, because he feels as if every opportunity to get in a game — whether on offense, defense or special teams — just gives him more chances to show people his potential. The fact that he gets the chance to do it with a fresh, new coaching staff only excites him the more.
“(Coach Dukes) has just brought such structure to us,” he said. “He’s brought a winning mentality from day one. He isn’t playing games with us. Coach Dukes sets the law and everybody abides by it. It’s just a different culture at Alcovy now.”
And it’s the kind of culture Robinson believes can help Alcovy break a winless streak in region play that dates back to October 2, 2015 — the last time the Tigers won a region game. Robinson says that’s all in the past, though.
“I feel like we’re gonna be good this year, like things are gonna be different,” he said. “I think we have what it takes to break that streak and even contend to be region champs. We’re definitely coming for that (region) title.”