Josh Robinson beaming about NFL chance

Once homeless in high school, rookie running back is enthusiastic about making most of pro opportunity.

His future is undetermined, but it could be bright. So Indianapolis Colts rookie running back Josh Robinson became playful and wore some shades for part of an interview after the final mini-camp practice.

He has every reason to smile about having an NFL opportunity. His much-publicized path included living out of his car during high school.

Now he has a chance to get paid to play the game he loves.

Robinson is a compact 5-8, 217-pound back out of Mississippi State. While the Colts signed running back Frank Gore in free agency, re-signed Dan Herron to be his backup and also have Vick Ballard and Zurlon Tipton on the roster, they thought enough of Robinson to select him in the sixth round of the NFL draft.

“I’m going to wear these,” he said of the shades. “Hey, swag. You’ve got to have swag to play in this league. Feel me?”

All joking around aside, Robinson couldn’t be more serious about wanting to earn an NFL paycheck. Because of where he once was, as a homeless prep star with lofty aspirations, it makes him appreciate more being with the Colts.

“Yes, sir,” he said, “but the game is just a part of me, you know? Now I’m doing it at a professional level.”

Robinson is physical runner who rushed for 1,203 yards, 6.3 yards per carry, and 11 touchdowns as a junior last season. He’s earned praise for his offseason work since coming to Indianapolis.

From day one since he’s stepped in here, he’s a ball of energy,” head coach Chuck Pagano said during offseason training activities. “High-motor guy, quick study, quick learner. Been very active and he’s able to process, take things from the classroom to the walk-through to the field.

“When you know what you’re doing, you know the direction you’re going, you know what your assignments are, you’re obviously able to play at a higher speed and a higher tempo. I think that’s helping Josh at this point.”

In an ironic twist of fate, Robinson is now reunited with his college mentor in Ballard. Because of the other players ahead of them, it’s possible the Colts might have to choose between the two. Ballard is coming off back-to-back season-ending injuries.

But Robinson doesn’t see earning a roster spot as a competition with Ballard.

“That’s my big brother,” he said. “He took me under his wing when we were in college and he’s taking me under his wing now. He’s just trying to make the team better and get to that championship.”

The No. 1 lesson he learned from Ballard’s college example was: “Always be you and just do your best.”

Robinson acknowledged Gore and Herron have also accepted him and taken him under their wings.

It’s doubtful nobody in the Colts’ locker room seemed more excited about actually getting back to work when the Colts report to training camp on Aug. 1 at training camp.

Robinson likes to smile and does it a lot, another indication of the positive energy Pagano has noticed in the rookie.

“You got to. You got to,” he said of smiling. “You never know how somebody’s day is going, so I try to put a smile on somebody else’s face as well.”

Snazzy shades are optional.

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

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