To come so close and end up just short in the national championship game is heartbreaking. Washington Redskins linebacker Keenan Robinson knows the feeling all too well.
In his sophomore year, Robinson was part of an undefeated Texas Longhorns, who ended up losing to the also unbeaten Alabama Crimson Tide in the 2010 BCS title game, 37-21. The loss hurt, but he still sees it as a success.
"I wanted to win a national championship game, [but] we lost that," said Robinson. "A lot of players can't say that they've been there and I was able to accomplish that with my team."
Robinson ended his college career as the 2011 Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl defensive Most Valuable Player. His impressive efforts as a three-year starter, which featured 106 tackles his senior year, were good enough to reward him with the fourth-round selection (119th pick) in the 2012 NFL Draft.
"For me, [being drafted] is just a dream come true," said Robinson. "I worked hard my four years at Texas and that hard work paid off."
One condition came with him being drafted, though. Robinson was asked to switch from outside linebacker to inside linebacker to better suit the team's need. At Texas, he started 39 games on the outside, but he played at inside on occasion, so the change wasn't too difficult for him.
"Not for me because I played three years in a 3-4, 4-3, nickel, so I got to play a little bit of all of it," said Robinson. "Coming here, I'm just picking back up from two years ago."
Robinson is seen as a potential replacement for the aging London Fletcher, who is now 37. Fletcher has won a Super Bowl with the Rams, been to three Pro Bowls — all with the Redskins — and was ranked as the league's 87th best player, according to NFL Network's list, which is voted on by the players.
But Robinson isn't worried at all about potentially filling quite a big hole down the road.
"For me, pressure is what you make it. I feel like for me, I just come in and learn what I can," said Robinson. "If I play to the best of my abilities, I can fill those shoes."
"He's learning the system, learning the defense, [he's] doing well," said Fletcher. "He doesn't seem overwhelmed by everything that's going on right now. I think he has the right temperament to be a good player in the league."
Early in training camp, Jonathan Goff suffered a season-ending torn ACL for the second straight season, opening up more potential playing time for Robinson.
"He's has a lot of athleticism, a nose for the ball, and he's really good in pass coverage," said third-year linebacker Perry Riley. "He's going to be a good player, I can guarantee you that."
Robinson's goal for his rookie season is simple: impress the coaches and do whatever is needed to help the team. With an always unpredictable season, he wants the coaches to know that he's ready for anything.
"I'm going to be a big part on special teams," Robinson said. "After that, I'm going to try to show the coach every day in practice that I can be on the field and I can be relied upon to make plays in crucial [situations]. People get hurt, people get injured. ... I'm just going to do what the coaches ask me to do and help the team in any way I can."
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