Robinson Learns From Mistake

FAYETTEVILLE -- Antwain Robinson wasn't allowed to just put his highly publicized mistake behind him. It wasn't going to be that easy for him.


The Arkansas defensive end had to explain himself, not just to his coaches but also to a jail inmate facing life in prison.
As part of his punishment for shoplifting a pair of shirts from a Dillard's department store in March, Robinson accompanied Arkansas student life coordinator Rodger Hunter on a tour of the Washington County Jail.
On their way out, an inmate hollered at Robinson, telling him how stupid he was for stealing shirts. Hunter made the junior go to the inmate's cell, so Robinson could hear more of what the man -- who was waiting to be transferred to prison -- had to say.
"If that doesn't wake you up and get the point across, nothing will," Hunter said.
The message got through to Robinson.
The defensive end said he wants to move past the humbling offseason, which included an embarrassing mugshot and surgery on his left shoulder for a bone contusion.
Robinson has regained his starting job, and as one might expect, he wants to turn his attention back to building off his breakout season a year ago.
"I'm just going to put all that behind me," Robinson said. "I'm just waiting on Sept. 1 when Troy walks in (for the season opener)."
Before his March 18 arrest, Arkansas coaches could point to Robinson as an example of a quiet overachiever who made up for his lack of height to finish sixth in the Southeastern Conference in sacks last season.
Though 6-foot-2, 255 pounds, Robinson used his deceptive speed and physical ability to get around offensive tackles and record 8 1/2 sacks in 2006. He also had 14 1/2 tackles for loss, fourth-best in the SEC.
Arkansas' coaches could use more of Robinson's pass-rushing ability this upcoming season, especially with Jamaal Anderson now playing in the NFL and defensive tackle Marcus Harrison still rehabbing a serious knee injury.
"I want Antwain to be a playmaker, and I think he will. It's going to be a matter of time," Arkansas defensive line coach Tracy Rocker said. "All I need from Antwain is to play within the structure of the defense."
Robinson also needs to prove he's healthy.
Arkansas defensive coordinator Reggie Herring admitted before preseason practices began last week that he had concerns about whether Robinson could withstand an entire season.
Robinson said his left shoulder no longer bothers him, though he won't know for sure how strong his arm is until the Razorbacks practice in full pads.
"It's healed back up; (I'm) back to 100 percent now," Robinson said. "I'm just waiting on how it's going to feel when we put the shoulder pads on and go full-contact."
Coaches are also curious to see how Robinson responds following his arrest. Will he make better decisions and be the leader Arkansas' defense needs?
Arkansas coach Houston Nutt decided against suspending Robinson for stealing two shirts from the Dillard's department store at the Northwest Arkansas Mall.
Instead, Robinson was demoted from the first-team defense. He was also forced to do extra conditioning drills after each spring practice.
Robinson crawling the length of a football field on his hands and knees became a common sight in the spring.
"It was good conditioning and it was rough," Robinson said. "I just hated not being with the first team, but I just had to fight through it and just work my way back up that depth chart."
Robinson also had to speak with elementary school kids about making smart decisions. One kid, in particular, told Robinson that he was disappointed to see the defensive end's name in the newspaper for stealing clothes.
"He's not proud of it. Hey, I let him know it's not something I'm proud of," Rocker said. "But it's something he's got to get over. It's something that every kid should learn from."

Hawgs Daily Top Stories