Not even a year had passed before Christian Robinson transitioned from player to coach at the University of Georgia. After a four-year career playing linebacker for the Bulldogs Robinson tried his hand at the NFL. He received an opportunity from the St. Louis Rams but was cut.
Most players would have waited around to get another call or shot with a NFL team. Robinson grew up with a father who coached and he knew that he wanted to remain in the sport, in some capacity.
“I just always knew I loved helping other people achieve their goals. That’s something my dad always done for me, so football was an avenue to do that. I called Coach Grantham about three days after I got cut and I said, ‘Coach, I don’t know what I want to do right now but I know I would love to be a part of what you’re doing. If I can do that, I’ll come and do anything you ask me to do.’ So I started quick.”
Quick is one way to say it. When Robinson walked into defensive meeting rooms as a 22-year old graduate assistant he was walking into a room full of former teammates. Just months prior he had shared a locker room with the guys he was now tasked with coaching. How do you command the attention of guys you joked with and were your peers that recently?
“We might have been teammates and early on it’s hard for them to see the difference, that now you’re a coach, but I think as time has gone on I’ve learned to adapt to it and say, ‘hey, I might be young but my goal here is to help you be the best football player you can be’,” Robinson said. “Especially at inside linebacker, having played it. In a lot of my meetings, the first time with my players I start by showing them my clips and saying, ‘hey, everything we’ve been asking you to do, look, I’m doing it. These guys are more athletic than me, so you should be able to get it done.’ So that’s kind of the voice of where I come from.”
It’s really been a meteoric rise for Robinson. He went from no coaching experience to a graduate assistant in the SEC at 22. Now, at age 27, he’s a full time position coach in he SEC.
He may be new at this whole coaching thing but he’s already impressed 20-year veteran Ron English. Florida’s new safeties coach, English has spent time all over the country and spent last year with Robinson at Mississippi State. They only spent a year together but Robinson has made quite the impression.
“He is going to be an excellent football coach. After working with him last year I said that to Coach Mullen about halfway through the season,” English told reporters on Tuesday. “He’s smart. He knows this system. He played in it. I think his dad was a coach. He’s got a great personality. He’ll coach you hard but he’s poised. He’s got a great way about him.”
Robinson is excited to get started at Florida. NCAA rules have kept him away from his new players but he has been active out on the recruiting trail and has embraced his new school. When pictures surfaced of him wearing Orange and Blue it didn’t come without some ribbing from his family back home and former teammates at Georgia. For the most part, he says, the people close to him are just excited. It’s not every day a 27-year old gets a full-time job at a school like Florida.
Robinson stayed on staff at Mississippi State last year through the bowl game. He was committed to his team and, as he puts it, wanted to finish out the season the right way. That didn’t stop his family from speculating and some orange and blue gear started turning up at the Robinson family home.
“You’re sitting there with your family and it’s Christmas and, you know, family is buying gear that; they’re excited. They know what’s coming and they’re getting Florida gear and I’m like ‘Mom and Dad, just wait. We don’t know yet.’ It was exciting times, but nerve-racking,” Robinson said. “But the day that he called me it was the greatest day of my life up to this point. Just to have the opportunity to work at a school like this for a coach like him and the staff that coach Mullen put together. It’s exciting because you can do great things here. Yeah, I’ll never forget that day.”
And his family won’t have to return the clothes they bought at Christmas either.