Christian Robinson doesn’t want his time at Georgia to end.
“If I could stay in this situation forever I would,” the senior linebacker from Norcross said this week. “I love it here.”
Alas, he doesn’t have a choice. Robinson will be among seven football players – and 39 UGA student-athletes in all – who will walk in graduation ceremonies on Friday morning at Stegeman Coliseum. Like it or not, it’s time to move on.
And for Robinson, like many of his compatriots, he’s not entirely sure what he’ll be moving on to.
“I won’t be Jarvis Jones when the (NFL) draft comes,” cracked Robinson, referring to his teammate, who is projected as a possible No. 1 pick. “Maybe I’ll go after him. But I’ve enjoyed my time here. Hopefully what I’ve done to this point will give me an opportunity to keep playing. If not, hopefully I can go back to school and coach.”
While Robinson might not have the star power of Jones or some of the other Bulldogs, he’ll depart UGA as an idealistic – and realistic — example of what a student-athlete’s college experience should be.
Robinson has been successful on the field, but not wildly so. A 3-star recruiting prospect out of Greater Atlanta Christian, he was redshirted his first season and has been tremendously productive ever since. He played in 50 of a possible 53 games, missing three with injuries. He started 17 of those games, has collected 156 tackles, 21.5 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, recovered four fumbles and forced one fumble.
Robinson also was named captain by the coaches for several games, was the recipient of the William P. Bruckner and David C. Cooper scholarships and is known as one of the team’s leading volunteers for community service projects. And while he’s not necessarily a star, he is an eloquent communicator. So for the past two seasons he has served as a de facto spokesman for the defense. Last year, beat writers covering the team presented him with the inaugural GATA Award, which stands for “Gracious Attitude Toward Answering.”
“He has definitely been a huge positive representation of what a college football player should be,” said junior guard Dallas Lee, one of Robinson’s close friends. “The media tends to focus on the superstars and the people who get in trouble because that’s all people really want to talk about. Nobody wants to hear about the positive impact of role players who do good jobs in their position every day. . . . Christian has done a great job of just being a solid guy doing his job, being a good student and not getting in trouble. I don’t think people celebrate that enough.”
Said head coach Mark Richt: “We’re proud of all our graduates. Christian has been nothing but a blessing.”
It hasn’t always been easy. Robinson has played on an injured foot most of the last two seasons. He went from being a starter and every-down player two years ago to being primarily a third-down middle linebacker his senior season.
He and roommates Arthur Lynch, Ty Frix, Aaron Murray and Dustin Royston came home to find the home they share vandalized by disgruntled fans after the 35-7 loss to South Carolina. And he was one of the players unintentionally thrown under the bus by safety Shawn Williams during his “defense-is-playing-too-soft” tirade in late October.
“It’s just a rollercoaster; it’s a lot of ups and down,” Robinson said of his career. “But at the end of it, to graduate, to have the friends I do, to hopefully play one more time and win again and be remembered as a part of that team that brought the belief back in Georgia, that would mean the world to me.”
Robinson will be joined in graduation ceremonies by five other current players: Luis Capella, Sanders Commings, Jonathan Owens, Bacarri Rambo and Cornelius Washington. Former star receiver Terrence Edwards (1999-2002) returned to complete degree requirements this semester.
They have been excused from Friday’s bowl practice, but they’ll be back to the grindstone for the fourth of 15 bowl practices on Saturday. Then there’s the Jan. 1 Capital One Bowl against Nebraska in Orlando.
“I got to play and that was my goal,” Robinson said. “It’s weird to think it’s about to be over. Coach Richt tells you that first day when he talks to all the freshmen, ‘you think it’s going to last forever,’ but it’s over before you know it.”
Joey Delmonico, Knoxville, Tenn., Communication Studies; Will Harvil, Smyrna, Ga., Sport Management; Chase Hawkins, Snellville, Ga., Management Info Systems; Levi Hyams, Stafford, Va., Communication Studies; Tyler Maloof, Winder, Ga., Finance; Colby May, Guyton, Ga., Communication Studies; Michael Palazzone, Marietta, Ga., Finance; Peter Verdin, Alexandria, Va., Sport Management
Jessica Buchko, Sarasota, Fla., Health Promotion; Melanie Carraway, Evans, Ga., English
Luis Capella, Augusta, Ga., Finance; Sanders Commings, Augusta, Ga., Communication Studies; Terrence Edwards, Sandersville, Ga., Housing; Jonathan Owens, Blountsville, Ala., Housing; Bacarri Rambo, Donalsonville, Ga., Consumer Economics; Christian Robinson, Norcross, Ga., Sport Management; Cornelius Washington, Hephzibah, Ga., Sport Management
Tess Fordham, Metter, Ga., Accounting; Kiara Hayashida, Lima, Peru, Communication Studies; Milena Savich, Carmel, Ind., Journalism
Kat Ding, Sparks, Nev., Advertising
Ashley Baker, Lilburn, Ga., Recreation and Leisure Studies; Bailey Powell, Fayetteville, Ga., Communication Studies
Erin Arevalo, Lathrop, Calif., Psychology; Ashley Pauly, Kennesaw, Ga., Newspapers; Kristyn Sandberg, Island Park, N.Y., Health and Physical Education
Swimming & Diving
Michael Arnold, Marietta, Ga., Marketing and Finance; Peter Benner, Savannah, Ga., Management; Abbie Fish, Louisville, Ky., Exercise and Sport Science; Shane Hall, Cumming, Ga., Management Info Systems; Erica Malagon, Athens, Ga., Spanish and Biology; Landon Watters, Rome, Ga., Exercise and Sport Science
Track & Field
Colleen Felix, St. Andrews, Grenada, Communication Studies; C.J. Holman, Huber Heights, Ohio, Communication Studies; Kristie Krueger, Argyle, Tex., Environmental Economics and Management; Eve Machovec, Augusta, Ga., Magazines
Briana Bahr, Pensacola, Fla., Housing; Ann Dylla, Littleton, Colo., Finance; Kathleen Gates, Wilmington, N.C., Exercise and Sport Science
NOTE: Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank is commencement speaker.