By Brian Hilderbrand for www.armedforcesbowl.com
Fort Worth, Texas, December 27, 2010 – Midway through his collegiate career, SMU receiver Aldrick Robinson was beginning to wonder if he had made the right choice in schools.
Personally, Robinson turned in an outstanding sophomore season in 2008. He had 1,047 receiving yards, tied a school record with 11 touchdown catches and landed on the All-Conference USA team as an honorable mention. But Robinson had come to Dallas to be a part of SMU’s resurgence in football and the Mustangs had just suffered through their second consecutive 1-11 season.
“When I first came here, they were 6-6 (the season before) and when I came on my visit they said, ‘We’re on the rise.’” Robinson recalled. “I believed it and when I came here we went 1-11 and then went 1-11 again and I started thinking like maybe I should have gone somewhere else.”
Mustangs faithful, and head coach June Jones, no doubt are grateful Robinson opted to stay put. A 5-foot-10, 178-pound senior, Robinson has helped lead SMU to back-to-back bowl appearances, including Thursday’s Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl showdown with Army.
This year, Robinson became the first receiver in SMU history to post two 1,000-yard seasons. Along the way, Robinson led the conference with 1,225 receiving yards, logged a school-record seven 100-yard games and established another SMU record with 13 touchdown receptions.
“No regrets,” Robinson now says of his decision to play at SMU. “Last year, we went to a bowl and we’re back in a bowl this year and they’re going to go to a bowl next year and now the program is back.
“It’s just been fun to be a part of winning with such a group of guys that are like a family. Being with Coach Jones and his staff, it’s just fun to win. I felt like God had a plan for me and it all worked. And I thank God for that.”
Of course, being a speedy receiver in a run-and-shoot offense has added to Robinson’s enjoyment. Robinson, who has caught at least one touchdown pass in seven consecutive games going into the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl, counts himself among Jones’ biggest fans.
“Being a receiver and with the speed I got being on the outside, you’re going to get a lot of action in this offense,” he said. “I loved it when I heard Coach Jones was coming here, knowing that they passed the ball out in Hawaii. I just got happy.”
Robinson said he hopes to continue playing next year at the professional level. He said he is planning to continue to put in the hard work that paid off with first-team all-conference honors this season and catch the attention of NFL scouts.
“I’ve got a pretty good chance,” he said. “I’m just going to continue to work hard this off-season and train and be ready for the (NFL) combine and hopefully get to that next level.”
Brian Hilderbrand (firstname.lastname@example.org) will be covering the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl for www.armedforcesbowl.com for the second consecutive year. Hilderbrand is a media consultant and freelance writer in Las Vegas after spending more than 30 years as a sports writer covering high school, collegiate and professional sports in Southern California and Nevada. He began his journalism career in 1974 – while still in high school – covering local sports for his hometown Placentia (Calif.) Courier. A Cal State Fullerton alumnus, in 1979 he joined the sports staff of the Anaheim Bulletin, where his beats included the California Angels and Los Angeles Rams. After a brief stint at the Orange County edition of the Los Angeles Times, he moved to Las Vegas in 1986. He covered minor-league baseball, golf, motorsports and UNLV football during a 22-year career with the Las Vegas Sun.