Brian Robinson Jr. 'trusting the process' at Alabama
Two years ago, Brian Robinson Jr. pulled a red Alabama hat over his similarly-dyed dreadlocks and signed the final paperwork to cement his childhood dream of joining the hometown Crimson Tide. The Tuscaloosa, Ala., native envisioned himself running out of the tunnel at Bryant-Denny Stadium and following in the footsteps of his former heroes on his way to the NFL.
The dreadlocks have since been cut and the dye has faded. However, Robinson’s vision remains unaltered.
Buried behind a loaded backfield, Robinson has yet to feature much in Alabama’s offense. Through his first two seasons, he carried the ball a combined 87 times for 437 yards and four touchdowns. To put that into perspective, the former four-star running back broke the Alabama Class 6A single-game rushing record with 447 yards and four touchdowns during his junior season at Hillcrest High School.
“It’s just hard not being out there,” Robinson told BamaInsider during the Orange Bowl’s media day. “I know once I get out there what I can do. Just not being out there and not having the opportunity, that’s the only thing that has been hard. I’m just trusting the process and praying that it all pays off.”
After receiving limited carries his freshman year, Robinson was hoping for an increased role last season. However, with Damien Harris electing to return for his senior year, Robinson once again found himself fourth on the depth chart. Heading into his junior season, his patience looks to finally be paying off.
This season Alabama will not only be without Harris but also Josh Jacobs, who elected to forgo his senior year for the NFL. That leaves Robinson and fellow junior Najee Harris as the two leading candidates to take over the starting role. Regardless of how that competition plays out this offseason, Robinson should see an uptick in carries.
“This is going to be a big spring from me,” Robinson said. “I’m just focusing on increasing my role next season. I’m going to do whatever I’ve got to do to contribute to the team.”
That team-first mentality paired with Robinson’s dedication to his original dream of playing at Alabama is a big reason why he has elected to remain in Tuscaloosa. The 6-foot-1, 218-pound back admits there have been moments of frustration. At one point, he even contemplated a transfer from Alabama.
“I’ve thought about it, but I realized at the end of the day it will take the same amount of time,” Robinson said. “I’m also not going to turn around and run away from something when it gets hard. That’s not who I am.
“I’ve always wanted to play here. Now that I’m here, this is the college experience that I wanted. There’s no place I’d rather be at.”
Alabama is certainly happy to have him, too.
Running backs coach Joe Pannunzio laughed when asked about the challenge of restocking the Crimson Tide’s running back unit this season.
“It’s Alabama, there’s always going to be good running backs,” he chirped back during media day before the national championship game. “We’ll keep that thing going.”
The belief is that the combined 1,516 rushing yards and 20 rushing touchdowns left behind by Jacobs and Damien Harris will simply be redistributed to Robinson and the rest of Alabama’s equally talented backs.
“All those kids in that room, they’re all going to play long past their collegiate career,” Pannunzio said. “(Brian) is just another kid that’s going to be a really good player. He is a good player, and I’m proud of him.
“He’s a big guy. He’s got vision. He can run. He can block. It’s just a blast to have him. He’s a dynamic player, and a really good kid.”
Robinson slow start hasn’t altered his professional aspirations either. After watching Jacobs elevate his draft status with a breakout junior year this past season, Robinson is hoping to do the same during his time in the spotlight.
“I think I can do everything I’ve got to do in one year,” Robinson said. “For me, going into my true junior year, I still have two years until I have to make a decision. It could be after my junior year or after my senior year. The one thing is I want to graduate before I leave.”