- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 14, 2009

Jamarr Robinson had 59 seconds to fashion a game-tying comeback and maintain Maryland’s chances of a .500 season a week ago at N.C. State.

Good luck, though, trying to tell whether the sophomore was aware of any pressure at the moment.

“He came back to the huddle and got on a knee and was relaxed calling the play,” said receiver LaQuan Williams, one of Robinson’s close friends. “[I thought], ‘C’mon, get some urgency.’ He was just chilling and catching his breath.”

The memory prompted a chuckle, considering it was so in character for a man who threw his first competitive pass in nearly four years last week and is likely to play a central role for the Terrapins (2-7, 1-4 ACC) on Saturday against No. 20 Virginia Tech (6-3, 3-2) at Byrd Stadium.

The opportunity swung open when starter Chris Turner suffered a sprained left knee ligament in the first half. Turner is doubtful to play Saturday, so Robinson is expected to make his first career start after throwing for 27 yards and rushing for 38 a week ago.

With a week to get ready as the primary quarterback, there was plenty of time to fix the mistakes that come naturally with a first chance to play.

“Looking back now after what I know now from last week, I laugh at it,” Robinson said. “It was fun. Some of the simple mistakes I made [were] the overthrown pass and just me running around seeing things that were clearly right in front of me that I missed.”

If there were errors, there was also a little rust - his last extensive playing time came as a high school senior in 2005.

He grayshirted the next season and worked for a resourcing company for a semester before arriving in College Park. Then came a redshirt season during which he rose to No. 2 on the depth chart thanks to injuries and attrition. Robinson played two snaps on special teams last year, then made a few cameos earlier this season.

Never, though, did the shifty 6-foot, 190-pounder have any desire to switch positions.

“Since I met him, since day one, he’s always been the cocky type, [thinking] he’s the best, he’s got the best arm, he’s the fastest guy in the world, he’s this and that,” safety Jamari McCollough said. “That’s just Jamarr. But that’s good, especially for the position he plays.”

Those traits are paired with a laid-back attitude, one with the potential to be perceived as comically detached. Robinson didn’t see Turner’s injury last week, learning when a freshman quarterback tapped him and said he needed to get ready.

Robinson’s response? “Oh, all right. OK. Let’s go.”

“I was really calm,” he said. “A lot of people were getting on me about how I was smiling so much before I went in. I was just going in like another day of work.”

Well, it was a little different. There was contact and something at stake. Robinson gradually improved, much as he did when coach Ralph Friedgen grumbled about his play halfway through last spring’s practice sessions.

Less than a month later, Robinson was the star of Maryland’s spring game. Now there’s a chance to do even more.

“He’s continued to progress,” Friedgen said. “We’re going to have an idea of how far he’s progressed now.”

Especially against a stingy Virginia Tech defense. Robinson’s best plays last week came on scrambles, and there was never any question about his speed. He also demonstrated a powerful arm, offering some promise to Maryland’s offense in the season’s closing stages.

“I feel like there’s a lot more to come from him,” receiver Emani Lee-Odai said. “We’ve just seen a piece of what he can do. He was prepared, but it was, ‘I’m going to throw you in the fire.’ He wasn’t able to play a game from start to finish and get settled and see what the defense was doing.”

Whether Turner can return for any of the last three games remains uncertain. But he won’t be back next season, meaning this closing stretch could be Robinson’s extended audition for 2010.

Friedgen hasn’t ruled out playing true freshman Danny O’Brien or even fellow first-year player C.J. Brown if necessary. Robinson, though, at least has the chance to make an impression.

“It’s the beginning of a big future for me,” he said. “I’ve got two more years left. This is just the beginning.”

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