It was almost as if the offensive staff of Chagrin Falls High School only looked to the best player on the field when they needed to in a 7-3 defeat at Youngstown Liberty last Friday (Sept. 10) night. And even though that player was Brian Robiskie, it wasn't enough to get a victory.
Near the end of both halves of action, the Tigers, who kept the ball on the ground for the majority of the contest, came close, but were stopped short of the end zone in both instances after long passes to Robiskie got them down there. On the evening, Robiskie, the son of Cleveland Browns offensive coordinator Terry Robiskie, caught just four balls for 80 yards.
"Any time I get a ball thrown to me, I've got to make the catch to help my team and that's what I try to do," Robiskie said. "There's some catches (in the game) that I made that I wish I would have taken a little farther, like the one in the first half (downed at the three-yard line as time expired); I wish I would have taken that one in. But we'll learn from it when we watch the film tomorrow. We'll learn, and we'll be ready to go next week."
Seeing the number 80 on the jersey of the tall and slender Robiskie instantly evokes images of a player that his dad, no doubt, knows well from his days in and around the NFL and most assuredly respects a great deal for his contribution to the game.
"When I think of number 80, Jerry Rice is the first thing that comes to my mind, but there's a funny story to it," he said. "I moved here in my freshman year because my dad was coaching with the (Washington) Redskins, and that was the number that my coach had laid out for me. I was coming in as a receiver and so he already laid it out."
Being the son of a former player and a coach in the NFL has its obvious benefits, and Robiskie won't hesitate to get an edge in his game because of it.
"It's a great experience, and it's an opportunity that a lot of people don't have and I try to take advantage of it to the fullest," he said. "A lot of guys don't have basically a walking football dictionary right next to them. I can ask him anything. Anytime I need something, I can call him up or he's right there. It's definitely a big benefit and I love having him there."
But with that Robiskie name also comes the perceived pressure of living up to the expectations from people who may have never even met him or seen him play in a game before.
"I don't think there's any big pressure there," he said. "People might look at me and try to expect something from me, but I know what I'm capable of and I know what I've got to do every week, so I just go out and try to help my team and do what I can do every week."
The film room work habits from his father are already ingrained in the younger Robiskie.
"Being at the young stage that I am, I watch a lot of film. I watch Larry Fitzgerald when he was playing, and I watch guys like Jerry Rice," he said. "And being around the pros, I get to watch those guys before they come out for the game, what they do before the game, their preparation. And my dad has gotten me practice film on them, so I know what kind of practices that they go through. I kind of mimic that and, to the best of my ability, try to do what they've done to get to their position."
Are there any particular receivers he watches more than others?
"I try to take a little bit from everybody, but I come back to Jerry Rice," Robiskie said. "I think he's the greatest. He's the greatest in the game today and the greatest that ever will be. But I think there's guys that are good blockers, like Hines Ward, and I try to pick up from that. And there's guys that can go up and catch a ball in a crowd like Larry Fitzgerald. So I try to take parts of everybody and try to combine them and use them all."
And his father provides almost instant feedback for Robiskie. His dad was in the stands watching the Liberty game, some 75 miles from Browns Stadium, with the opening game of the season for his own team just two short days away at the time.
|Robiskie also lines up at cornerback|
"A lot of people out here don't know when I've messed up, but he can sit in the stands and not know what the play is and know when I've done something wrong, and he knows when to get on me about it," Robiskie said. "But I've got unbelievable coaches and I've got unbelievable respect for them and he knows that. He talks to them and I know he's got faith in them and in what they do and what we do. But like I've said, he's there for me any time."
At 6-3, 195 pounds, Robiskie is blessed with the physical talent and the pedigree that should bode well for him to have individual success at every level of football that he participates in beyond the high school level.
"I don't think I'm gifted, I think I'm blessed," he said. "I think it just comes down to me being blessed by having the opportunity that I have and I have to make sure that I take full advantage of it."
He's being recruited by schools across the country for his ability as a receiver and not for his last name.
"I think recruiting is going real well right now," Robiskie said. "Sept. 1 was the first week that they could start calling and I got calls from all of the schools that I really wanted to hear from. I heard from Miami, I heard from Ohio State and I heard from SC, so I'm real happy with what's going on."
Robiskie was born in Los Angeles and lived there for his first seven years, moved to Virginia when his dad coached with the Redskins for another five years and then he moved to Ohio.
"Football-wise, high school-wise, I'm an Ohio kid," he said. "But as of right now I have no preference for where I go. I like Ohio State, I like Miami and I like USC, so those are the three schools that I like. And I've got an offer from Penn State I'm definitely looking at; they're right there. So those are a couple of the schools that I like."
Robiskie camped at Ohio State this summer, and he thought he made a good impression on at least a couple of the OSU coaches.
"I got a chance to talk to Coach Hazell and from what I took from him, he seemed pretty impressed with what I had done there," he said. "And I talked to Coach Tucker, who recruits my area. I really talk to him a lot. He's a really good guy and I like him a lot."
In person, Robiskie, who sports a 3.5 GPA and has scored a 1100 on the SAT, is a very articulate young man, with young being the relative term. In addition to his prowess on the gridiron and in the classroom, he also averages a double-double for his high school hoop team and he ran track for the first time last season.
"I turn 17 in December after the football season. I'm 16 right now," he said. "Everybody looks at me and says ‘there's potential there for this kid with him being so young,' but I'm just trying to go out there and do what I can do now. I don't look at myself as being young and I'm trying to hold out for tomorrow. I try to do what I can right now. Wherever I go, I'm trying to contribute to where I am right now, right then."
But Robiskie admitted that he's also got an eye on the future knowing that he has to excel at the college level first in order to even have a chance to make it to the NFL someday, where his father has made his living.
"I think that's every football player's dream," he said. "You're out here playing under the lights, and I think everybody wants to go to that next step and play college ball and everybody there wants to take it another step or another level farther. So yeah, that's definitely a dream and I'm working toward it I think."
He knows, as well as anyone, that the NFL is an exciting and rewarding life from just being around it the way he already has.
"I work on game day for the Browns. I'm an equipment/ball boy-type thing and this is my second year doing this, and I've worked the training camps and stuff like that," Robiskie said. "Just being able to watch those guy work and see the successes that they've had just to get to that point is unbelievable. These guys are professionals, they've done it, they've proven that they could do it and I like watching that."
And like Fitzgerald, who obviously learned a great deal from being around those great Viking receivers in Minnesota as a ball boy for so many years, Robiskie ultimately hopes that he can parlay that same type of background into a great college career so that he too can have a chance to make it big in the NFL someday. Just like his dad has done.
Brian Robiskie Photo Gallery