Robinson looking to be Terps' 'enforcer'

Not vocal by nature, quarterback more likely to lead example

  • Maryland quarterback Jamarr Robinson walks off the field during the Terps' media day.
Maryland quarterback Jamarr Robinson walks off the field during… (Baltimore Sun photo by Steve…)
August 10, 2010|By Jeff Barker, The Baltimore Sun

COLLEGE PARK — The receivers laugh about it today, how Maryland teammate Jamarr Robinson told them to "shut up" in a huddle last season so he could finally call the play.

"I had to turn into the enforcer," said Robinson, a redshirt junior to whom such an outspoken role doesn't come naturally.

Robinson, from Charlotte, N.C., enters this preseason as Maryland's starting quarterback. With the position comes the expectation -- particularly on a team with just 16 seniors -- that he will become a leader.

It's a role that the laid-back Robinson, who started two games in 2009, is growing into.

He's not vocal by nature and acknowledges that he is more of a "lead by example" guy. He maintains the trace of a North Carolina twang, occasionally dropping "y'all" into sentences. He's immensely popular with teammates who appreciate his toughness, loyalty and dry sense of humor. "I love him," said receiver Adrian Cannon, Robinson's suite mate. "He's definitely a calm guy. He's humble."

Coaches are fond of him, too. "I saw tremendous progress in him this summer," coach Ralph Friedgen said as the Terps opened August practices Tuesday in preparation for their Sept. 6 opener against Navy at M&T Bank Stadium.

"I just think he's a lot more comfortable in his reads and his decision-making," Friedgen said.

But coaches have been coaxing Robinson, named by the team last season as its most improved player, to become more expressive.

"I'd like him to be more vocal," offensive coordinator James Franklin said. Franklin said he constantly tells players how far a confident-sounding pitch can carry them -- whether the goal is motivating teammates or getting a date with "a nice girl."

"You've got to exude that confidence. You've got to show everyone you're in control," said Franklin, 38, a former quarterback at East Stroudsburg. "I think leadership is so, so important, especially at the quarterback position."

Somewhere deep in Robinson is a tough guy waiting to get out. His teammates say they've seen flashes of that resolve -- such as when he repeatedly refused to run out of bounds when chased out of the pocket last season.

"The way I look at him is, he's a good old Southern boy but also he's got the attitude of a New Yorker," said sophomore kicker Nick Ferrara, from Hicksville, N.Y.

The slim, goateed Robinson, who is about 6-feet, 195pounds, was once a linebacker.

"In Pee Wee days I was one of the biggest people on the field, and I think they had me playing middle linebacker," he said. "I was the run-stopper. I was the head-banger."

Robinson rarely shied away from contact when inserted into the N.C. State game after starter Chris Turner injured a knee ligament last November. Robinson, who didn't throw a pass during his first series, grew increasingly comfortable as the game progressed.

He also got sore.

"I was hungry to run around and hit people because I hadn't been hit like since high school. So I was running around being a little reckless with my body. But after the first two games, I started to feel all those hits afterward, and I learned that sometimes it's better to just run out of bounds or go down," Robinson said.

Robinson completed five of 11 passes for 27 yards against North Carolina State. He rushed for 129 yards against Virginia Tech a week later, then continued to improve by completing 20 of 27 passes for 213 yards against Florida State.

Teammates could tell his confidence was mounting when he momentarily snapped in a late-season huddle.

Robinson smiles at the memory.

"I might have said, 'Shut up, let me call the plays.' But we laughed and joked about it afterwards," he said.

Said Franklin: "I don't think you're ever going to come to practice and he's going to be loud and real overbearing. He's going to have a quiet confidence."

jeff.barker@baltsun.com

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