UT’s Robinson ‘ahead of schedule’ for returnWritten by Zach Davis | | firstname.lastname@example.org
“I just heard like a gunshot in the back of my right ear and I just fell to the ground.”
That was the last memory that Toledo junior safety Jermaine Robinson had of himself on a football field after rupturing his right Achilles tendon during a 34-32 loss to Florida International in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl in December.
“I went to the middle of the field running just a normal zone read and planted,” Robinson said. “It sounded like somebody shot me, there was just a pop. I fell to the ground and touched my foot and it was moving. It didn’t hurt at all. I got up and started walking and my ankle just gave out and I knew it was something bad.”
Robinson had surgery two days later and has been rehabbing ever since. He wore a cast on his foot until March and was forced to use crutches. His recovery time is an estimated six to eight months.
As for his status in 2011, Robinson hopes to be back for the Sept. 1 opener when Toledo hosts New Hampshire in the Glass Bowl. Unfortunately, it is still unknown whether or not he will be able to return by that time.
“I went to see the doctor a few weeks ago and he said he just wants to see me before camp,” Robinson said. “That hopefully is the last one where he just lets me go ahead and puts it in the trainer’s hands. Hopefully, I can make [the opener].”
“I think he is coming along great,” Toledo head coach Tim Beckman said. “I would say that he is ahead of schedule, but we haven’t been able to see him since May 1 working out.”
Robinson said he has been working out at full capacity — including sprinting, backpedaling, cutting and even running a 40-yard dash with a time of 4.66.
“I’m just building it up each day as much as the pain will let me,” Robinson said. “I haven’t had much pain since last month.”
A speedy return is now even more important. Isaiah Ballard, who started all 13 games last season at the “star” position (linebacker/safety hybrid), was kicked off the team on May 25 after being charged with felonious assault, one day after reserve lineman Damien McIntosh was removed for the same offense. Ballard finished third on the team in tackles (83) behind only Archie Donald (146) and Dan Molls (143), who both finished in the top nine in the nation.
“Damien and Isaiah are great players,” Robinson said. “Damien was starting to have a good spring. He’s big, athletic and a good dude. Isaiah, everybody knows he was an All-Conference player and he could have even been All-American.
“Both of them were really good teammates. We had a lot of fun with them. I’ve known them since my freshman year. Sometimes you just make the wrong decisions.”
If Robinson is unable to return, senior Diauntae Morrow will take his place in the starting lineup. The former Iowa transfer played in every game last season.
Another option could be junior safety Vladimir Emilien, who is awaiting word from the NCAA on his eligibility for the upcoming season.
Despite the depth, Robinson is determined to make it back to the lineup for the beginning of the season to play in two tough rematches looming in weeks two and three. The Rockets travel to Ohio State on Sept. 10 before hosting Boise State on Sept. 16. The Buckeyes shut out Toledo 38-0 in Cleveland in 2009 while the Broncos rolled to a 57-14 victory over UT on its home turf last season.
“It’s a good thing for the program and the City of Toledo,” Robinson said. “Since my freshman year we have been playing BCS schools. It can be a big momentum builder and we can really do something special if we can go to Ohio State and beat them and then come home to Boise. You don’t see too many teams in the MAC that can bring a top-10 or even top-5 team for a home game on ESPN.”
Robinson and the Rockets should be catching Ohio State at the right time after head coach Jim Tressel was forced to resign in the midst of NCAA violations. Starting quarterback Terrelle Pryor, who set career-highs in passing (262) and rushing (111) yards while totaling four touchdowns against the Rockets, had been suspended for the first five games of the season for violations he committed, but has since left the team and declared for the NFL Supplemental Draft. Others suspended for the Toledo game include starting running back Daniel “Boom” Herron, wide receiver DeVier Posey, offensive lineman Mike Adams and defensive end Solomon Thomas.
“An Ohio State recruit has players behind them that are just as good. We have to go in there like Pryor, Tressel and the rest were still there,” Robinson said.