One of the things Alabama senior cornerback Ramzee Robinson notices is when someone calls him Ramzee. It almost never happens. He is Bino, a nickname that dates to his days as a star quarterback at Butler High School in Huntsville.
Something that Bino has noticed this year is that the 2006 Crimson Tide football team isn't getting any respect. "I'm surprised at the ratings," he said in a meeting with sportswriters last week. "We were 10-2 last year and no one is giving us much credit this year."
Robinson doesn't think that's necessarily a bad thing.
"We are The University of Alabama," he said. "It doesn't hurt us. It helps us. It motivates us. We want to prove all the critics wrong."
But Bino, you do notice that seven defensive starters from last year are gone, don't you? Those men who helped Bama to the best defense in the Southeastern Conference and one of the best in the nation are now in National Football League training camps.
"The younger guys have got to take those starting spots," Robinson said. "Our defense doesn't believe in rebuilding. Everyone has to work to be the best he can be. That's what the older guys are doing this summer–showing the younger guys what it takes to be ready when Hawaii comes in."
Alabama opens the season September 2 hosting Hawaii. The Tide will report for fall practice on August 7, but with the start of the second semester of summer school this week almost all players are on campus. Most of the returning players have been in Tuscaloosa working out all summer.
Robinson admits that some good play will have to come from players who are not well known to the general public.
Rashad Johnson (5-11, 178, sophomore, safety, Sulligent) is a great athlete," Robinson said. "Marcus Carter (6-1, 190, junior, safety, Fort Payne) is doing a great job. Terrence Jones (6-1, 220, senior, linebacker, Fosters) hasn't gotten the publicity he deserves because he's been playing behind DeMeco Ryans."
Robinson added, "There are a number of guys who could surprise a lot of people. These guys haven't had game time experience, but I don't see us changing too much."
Robinson, 5-10, 190, had a tough year in 2005, but almost no one knew it until after the season. He had two stress fractures in his lumbar (lower back) region and midway through the season suffered a dislocated finger while trying to break up a pass in practice. "I was a little banged up, but I managed to play in every game," he said.
He had two interceptions (one against Florida, one against Ole Miss) and broke up seven passes as a junior. He was in on 32 tackles and has 100 tackles in his three-year career. He has played in 37 games and started 23 of them.
Bino said, "I'm feeling great. I went through spring practice doing everything but full contact tackling. I've had to learn to rest my body. And it took a lot of visits to the chiropractor and massage therapist.
"Now I'm where I want to be. I'm 100 per cent. Maybe more than that."