By John Davis, Oxford Citizen
Three years ago, Austrian Robinson was a full-time basketball player and just getting acclimated to Trinity-Pawling School, a small all-boys boarding school located in a town halfway between New York City and the state capital of Albany.
Robinson is a 6-foot-4, 265-pound defensive line prospect that has a lot of natural ability. He’s still learning the game, but his skills have garnered a lot of attention from college recruiters. Ole Miss, Maryland and the University of Miami are his finalists.
His coach, Nick LaFontaine, confirmed Saturday morning that Robinson had not visited Ohio State and after playing hoops that afternoon, Robinson and his family were going to get together and discuss the pros and cons of all the schools with National Signing Day approaching.
“We talk on a daily basis, definitely involved, just trying to help him facilitate the process of it which has been difficult,” LaFontaine said about his role in Robinson’s recruiting. “If he is not the most high profile kid that we’ve had, he’s definitely up there. With all the schools that have come through, and the range of interest that he’s gotten, it has just been unbelievable. I’m just trying to help him out, and I think he’s done a really good job of it.”
LaFontaine called Trinity-Pawling a “typical New England, New York” boarding school. Robinson was at a junior prep school prior. He played basketball at the prep school and then was a basketball recruit for Trinity-Pawling coach Bill Casson when he was a sophomore.
“He had never played football in his life until that day he first stepped on to campus,” LaFontaine said. “We have a sport requirement that they have to play multiple sports here. Just with his size, Coach Casson said why don’t you go out for football. Austrian, never having played, started walking out to our JV field and we immediately spotted him and said ‘Hey, why don’t you come with us? We’ll teach you what you need to know.’ We did that the first year and we were a different team.”
Robinson wasn’t expected to be a major contributor that first season, so his first year was all about learning. The last two years, he has been a starter on both sides of the ball.
“It’s very much a Blind Side kind of story,” LaFontaine said.
LaFontaine said schools are interested in Robinson because he is so athletic for such a large player. Robinson played a strongside defensive end role on defense for Trinity-Pawling.
“We have played four down in the past and this year we went to a three-man line and he played end,” LaFontaine said. “He’s also been down (at tackle) and played three technique. We’ve moved him around. The sky is the limit, he’s just scratching the surface with what his body can be. I can see him putting on some weight very quickly and playing wherever they need him to play. People have talked to him about playing the interior line and on the edge at end. I don’t think it matters to him and I think he can figure it out wherever he ends up going.”
When it comes to deciding on the school that best fits Robinson, LaFontaine said he has thrived in a family environment and he was looking for that type of a feeling in college.
“I’ve said that to every coach that has come through, I know that’s what he’s looking for and I think every school has done their best to show him that,” LaFontaine said. “I think that has a huge impact on where he’s going to end up going.”
A decision for Robinson is expected on Wednesday. The thought process was to not take a final visit to Ohio State so that the family could decompress from the process and then start to finalize a decision.
Jason Jones, Ole Miss’ cornerbacks coach, has been Robinson’s main recruiter. LaFontaine said he’s seen Jones for what seemed to be a “half dozen times.” LaFontaine added that he can’t remember a time where Ole Miss hasn’t been around or involved in the recruiting process.
“He’s has done a really good job,” LaFontaine said of Jones. “All the coaches have with all the schools that are remaining, have done a good job. And he is a loyal kid, so all the coaches have paid their dues and put in their time.”
Robinson came to Oxford last weekend, Jan. 23-25 and LaFontaine said he thought his standout end enjoyed the visit to Ole Miss.
“I’ve never been there, but I don’t know how you go down to that environment and not enjoy the visit. I mean I can’t imagine that you would go down there and not like it,” LaFontaine said. “He’s been playing it pretty close to the vest as far as what he thinks, but I know he enjoyed it and I know he thought it was a cool place. They care about football deeply.”
LaFontaine told Robinson last week, that the position he gets to be in, that he gets to choose a school that is right for him, not everyone gets that choice.
“I told him to be thankful. I know that it’s a process that can become overwhelming, but you should be thankful for the opportunity that you have,” LaFontaine said. “He is and he is grateful for that.”
This past season, Trinity-Pawling went 4-5 overall. In stats listed on MaxPreps.com, Robinson made 25 tackles in eight games. He is rated as the No. 33 strong side end in the nation by Rivals.com and the No. 2 overall prospect coming out of the state of New York this year.
Here are some of highlights provided by Hudl and Trinity-Pawling.