Robinson happy to be back in the mix

Reggie Robinson is happy to be an active member of the LSU football team following a year layoff.

Just when Reggie Robinson had finished answering questions at LSU Media Day, he was told to join the rest of the wide receivers for a group picture. Robinson bounced joyously from one end of Tiger Stadium to the other, waving a white towel above his head as he faded out of sight.


Media Day -- a one-hour-long, mid-afternoon affair where players wear uniforms and answer recycled questions in the blazing August heat -- may not be a world of fun for the Tigers, but Robinson wasn't happy because it was over. He was happy because ... well, that's just the way Reggie Robinson is these days.


Since returning to the Tigers for the start of spring practice, Robinson has looked more like a kid fulfilling his boyhood dream than a fifth-year player with little to prove. Now that he is fully healed from the neck injury that sidelined him in 2001, Robinson plans to cherish every moment of his final tour with the Tigers.


"When you lose it," says offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher, "you realize how important it really is. He helps bring that to our younger guys: Live the moment you have and really relish the opportunities you have and take advantage of it. He's been a huge ambassador for us in that regard."


Should Robinson's enthusiasm for the game spread to the other LSU wideouts, an already-stellar receiving corps will become even better. Though it's unlikely any of the LSU receivers will near 100 catches -- All-American Josh Reed had 93 last season -- the Tigers will field a more balanced passing attack as they look to repeat as Southeastern Conference champions.


Sophomore Michael Clayton, the team's second-leading receiver as a freshman, and senior Jerel Myers, a fourth-year starter, will join Robinson to form a trio of battle-tested pass-catchers. When the Tigers want to give the opposition a different look, they can turn to a deep bench that features Shyrone Carey, Devery Henderson, Bennie Brazell, Blain Bech and Skyler Green.


"The depth will be better this year," Robinson says. "I believe at least five guys will have 20 catches this year."


While Robinson was gone, LSU rode the strength of a record setting passing game to its first outright conference title since 1986. Robinson, with 77 catches for 1,061 yards from 1998-2000, watched it all from the sideline, but he made sure his presence was felt when he returned to the practice field last spring.


Robinson got off the bus whooping it up on the first day of spring practice, letting his teammates know how happy he was to be back in the swing of things. Then, with each drill the team ran, Robinson reminded everyone why he was such a bright spot entering the 2001 season.


Ah, yes, the 2001 season. Robinson's senior season. Almost.


It was late last summer, just before the start of fall practice, when Robinson went to feed his son, Reggie Jr., a piece of pizza and felt a shock shoot down his arm. He thought he had hit his funny bone, shook off the discomfort and went about enjoying his dinner. Then, moments later, Robinson experienced the same sensation and accepted the fact that something -- nothing serious, mind you -- might be wrong.


Two weeks later, Robinson underwent surgery to repair a herniated disk in his neck. He wouldn't be able to play football again until after the departure of quarterback Rohan Davey, who had hooked up with Robinson for an 8-yard touchdown pass to decide the 2001 spring game.


"He cherishes each and every day," receivers coach Stan Hixon says, "because it's not promised to anybody. Some guys take things for granted, but like it's always said, 'You don't know how much you'll miss something until you lose it.' With a chance to come back and play, he's excited to be back out there."


Robinson, who played basketball at Shreveport's Fair Park High School with former LSU and current Memphis Grizzlies forward Stromile Swift, is so devoted to enjoying his final football season that he hasn't hit the hardwood in more than a year. Even when LSU point guard Torris Bright and his teammates badgered Robinson for sitting out a recent pick-up game, the 6-foot-2, 194-pound receiver with a straight-out-the-stadium vertical leap didn't budge.


"I'm not going to do anything besides football that might cause me to get hurt," says Robinson, who's made at least one catch in 29 straight games. "Maybe after football I'll pick it up again."

For now, Robinson is focused on making his second senior season a memorable one. He's living the moment.

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