Colts add Vick Ballard protege Josh Robinson

Once college teammates at Mississippi State, where Ballard mentored Robinson in 2011, they're together again in the NFL.

Familiarity continued as an Indianapolis Colts’ NFL draft theme with the sixth-round Saturday selection of running back Josh Robinson.

The Colts have drafted Stanford players Henry Anderson and David Parry, reuniting them with college teammates already on the NFL roster. They used a first-round pick on wide receiver Phillip Dorsett from the University of Miami, which has produced several Colts past and present.

Robinson’s connection to the Colts is running back Vick Ballard, who mentored the 5-8, 217-pound runner while they were together at Mississippi State in 2011.

The Colts drafted Ballard in the fifth round in 2012, and after a successful rookie season he’s spent the last two on injured reserve and is in the midst of a comeback.

“Yes, sir, I was right behind Vick Ballard,” Robinson said of his redshirt year with the Bulldogs. “Vick Ballard taught me everything I know.

“He taught me never to give up. I always give a relentless effort. Just to be me. As far as skill, I learned as a trait. He just gave me the mindset to be the best I can be and just be “J-Rob” at all times. I always translate that and that made me the player I am today.”

It’s quite possible that Robinson could be battling his old friend for a roster spot. The Colts signed Frank Gore in free agency to be the No. 1 back and re-signed restricted free agent Dan Herron. Ballard is just 24, but coming off knee and Achilles injuries, which makes him a question mark entering training camp.

“I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily hard,” Robinson said. “It’s what motivates me and inspires me to be the best I can be daily. (Vick Ballard) grinds daily. They love him up there and I feel like the Colts will love me, too, and the fan base as well.”

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Robinson grew up in less-than-ideal circumstances, at one point living in a car during high school for six months before moving in with a cousin.

“I wouldn’t necessarily say there were tough decisions in my life because God put them in my life for a reason,” he said. “Everybody can’t handle those reasons and some people just went the wrong route or did something different. (God) put it on me because I’m a child of God and he’s gives stuff to his children.”

Asked how he ended up living out of a car, he said, “Just situations and the environment that I was in. I wanted to be better. The high school that was in my hometown wasn’t that great, so I had to make a sacrifice on where I was going to get where I’m at now.”

Robinson said his early trials made him stronger.

“I have a great attitude and I’m a people person,” he said. “When you come around me, I immediately connect with you. I had too much pride, so I didn’t tell anyone. So I got cafeteria food, ate breakfast in the morning at school and I had (people) send me stuff from back home to snack on. I would sit there all day every day and either lift weights, train, be at school and I’d be around people so we’d be eating and stuff like that.”

Robinson said his high school coaches would pay him to wash their cars so he could have gas money to get around.

He has the No. 23 tattooed on his chest.

“May 23, 2004, my grandmother died,” he said. “May 23, 2005, my grandpa died. Feb. 23, 2011, my mom went to prison. Nov. 23, 2013, I rushed for my first 100-yard game.

“So 23 means a lot to me and I’m trying to wear No. 23 when I get up there.”

He’ll have to talk to Gore, an 11th-year veteran who has that jersey number.

Robinson said he turned pro to feed his family. The compact, physical runner is often described as a bowling ball. Why is that?

“You’re going to have to wait until I get up there,” he said, “so I can demonstrate first-hand.”

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Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.

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