"It's pronounced Don-Tay," Robinson reminds. "Don-tay," he repeated again just to make sure, followed by one of his well known friendly smiles.
It came to mind immediately that it would be good to hear his name being chanted correctly, en masse unison, this season in Williams-Brice. DON-TAY! DON-TAY! DON-TAY!
I caught Dunta Robinson leaving the laundry room with an arm load of towels, heading back to the locker room. We were the only two remaining after a long day - this would be a good time to talk.
Dunta came to USC four years ago out of Clarke Central High School in of all places Athens, Georgia. Being a long time follower of all things recruiting oriented, his signing had caused me to ponder why the Georgia Bulldogs had allowed Robinson out of their own backyard? Ask a Georgia fan, most will quickly tell you that Dunta simply wasn't good enough to play for the Dawgs.
The Dawgs may pay for Jim Donnan's decision this season.
"Yes sir, the Georgia game is huge to me ..." Dunta let it trail off as if to make sure I was listening. I must have asked him if it would be a big game this year without thinking ... how it would be, him starting at corner in front of his home town crowd and all? I was again silently asking myself about how the Dawgs could have let this young man out of their own back yard?
"I know a lot of those guys down there. Damien Gary and I know each other from way back ... things will be evenly matched this year (our defense verses their offense.)"
Watching Dunta speak about the game - he knows something. He is very very confident.
"I played against David Greene in high school too. Twice. I intercepted him each time we went against each other so I know a little about him ... I'm looking forward to the game."
Dunta has waited his turn. He's earned the right to look forward to his own personal 'biggest game' of the season.
Robinson made the move from Spur to Corner during the Spring of 2002. He earned the title 'MVP DB' that Spring and later finished the 2002 season with a team-leading four interceptions, fourth most in the SEC in 2002.
"I've worked hard to get here, it seems like a long time coming to me sometimes. I remember though, not too long ago, watching everything Sheldon (Brown) and Andre (Goodman) did. Those guys taught me a lot while they were here. They made sure I knew what to watch for, how to plant a foot here or turn a hip there or prepare myself for a cut, how to think on my feet. Things like that. It was good for me to get to work under those two guys."
What was the most important thing Sheldon and Andre taught you Dunta?
"To practice hard. To play-it on the practice field just like you play-it in the game ... all-out, with everything you've got. You see, what most people don't know about those two guys were that they never complained during practice. What they did came from hard work, not just talent and skill. That's one of the reasons they were so good. They practiced like they played and they taught me how important that is."
"I still talk to Andre sometimes. He still checks up on me, like he called me just the other day to give me his new cell phone number. I appreciate that from him, it means a lot to me to know he'll be checking up on me this season."
Will a Gamecock secondary led by Dunta Robinson this season, be as good as the secondary led by Andre Goodman and Sheldon Brown?
"I hope so," Robinson answered without hesitation. "We CAN be, I truly believe that. We have the talent if everything comes together like it is supposed to."
How so? Come together like how?
"If it unfolds the way it is supposed to then there will be pressure coming from everywhere. That's going to help us out a lot, help us to do our jobs."
Us? As in who? Better yet, what are your thoughts about your teammates in the secondary this season?
"Hey listen, I have complete confidence in my teammates. DeAndre is going to be good. He already is. And Teddy could easily be a starter too so that is how good our depth can be. Tremaine Tyler, man, he is going to be real good, he just needs to keep learning. (Fred) Bennett is due to breakout any day now. He's been a little bothered by the injury but you can see it in Bennett that he is something special. Rachiem (Monroe) is doing well too. Issac ... he really worked hard over the summer. We have the depth and talent back there. If the defensive line unfolds like I think it is going to we have the corners to get the job done."
Last year the knock on the secondary, with basically the same guys, was that you were not strong enough as a unit to leave you out on an island against the league's better wide receivers.
"Yes sir, well ... there are always going to be critics - some of them may not understand exactly why things happen the way they do. But we are older and more mature this year, we've got a lot more experience and the system is different this year too. Like I said if things unfold the way we intend to make them unfold then you will see a different defense out there this year."
Dunta, each Corner seems to have his own philosophy. Playmakers, those who have the capability to change the momentum of a game, seem to have their own unique approach to playing Corner. What's yours?
"I'm always thinking, when we're on defense, that we need to get the ball back as quickly as possible. That doesn't mean waiting for the opponent's offense to give the ball back to you. What that means is you've got to take the ball away from the opposing offense ... you take it away from them and give it back to your own offense. You have to think like that, to be aggressive."
So do you play the ball or the person?
"You cover the guy first, play the ball second. But to be a playmaker you have to react to the ball once it is in the air if you can - if you have a chance at it. Prevent the other guy from taking possession once it's in the air. Take it away and give it back to your offense."
Your vitals this year Dunta? Are you at the top of your game heading into your senior season?
"Yes sir, I'm feeling good about it. I'm running a 4.38 forty. 6'0", 180-185 or so. Benching 350, a verticle of 38.4, 3.90 shuffle."
Yeow! You are ready! Thanks for sharing the time with us this afternoon Dunta. Good luck this season.
"Thanks, and anytime."
Dunta Robinson: SC's Playmaking Corner
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