December 29, 2012 11:05:23 PM
Matthew Stevens - [email protected]
Darrell Robinson walked up to his head coach one day during summer camp with a proclamation that Noxubee County High School coach Tyrone Shorter took very seriously.
"He walked up to me and said 'coach I think I want to go after 2,000 yards this season' and I immediately told him that he'd need about 200 yards a game to get that," Shorter said. "He looked at me funny and immediately said 'coach we're going to the playoffs and going 16-0 so I don't think I'll need that many."
Turns out not only was Robinson very serious with his prediction but he was also very accurate. Robinson would end the season with 2,686 yards and 50 touchdowns in a 2012 season that ended with a perfect 16-0 record and a Class 4A Mississippi High School Activities Association state championship.
"I wasn't trying to be cocky or arrogant," Robinson said. "Honest, I was just trying to find goals I thought would be fun to go after and 2,000 yards seemed like one I would have fun with."
All of this production in his final high school campaign led to Robinson being named The Dispatch's Large School Offensive Player of the Year.
"The season for me was just nothing but amazing," Robinson said. "The reason I say that is you can't imagine having everything you work so hard for happen. You just can't and then it does and shocked is how I felt."
Robinson's coach with the Tigers program, Shorter, wasn't sure his tailback was serious about his proclamation until he saw Robinson by himself at the practice field running with a parachute behind him.
"I began to think 'wow, he's serious about having his best season and I knew right then that we had the tailback to run over people for the first time in a while at Noxubee County," Shorter said.
Robinson opened the season with 199 yards at Starkville High School and continued to average over six yards per carry in every regular season game of the 2012 campaign. The extraordinary aspect of Robinson's season beyond the numbers is he led the state's most frightening rushing attack with a badly damaged thigh injury that occurred in early October.
"Sure I was hurting and there was pain but my teammates needed me and beyond that, what kind of player would I be if I quit because of something I believed I could overcome?," Robinson asked hypothetically when asked about the injury.
In the season-opening 29-8 victory over Starkville, Yellow Jackets coach Jamie Mitchell knew exactly what he'd seen and how his team was beat on that Friday evening.
"I don't know what to tell you, they simply lined up and whipped our you-know-what as good as you can whip it," Mitchell said on that August night.
The 195-pound tailback had a career high 326 yards on 39 carries even after suffering the thigh injury and said that game was the turning point for him accomplishing all his individual and team orientated goals.
"Here's the thing about that - my coaches told me going into the opening game that I'd be getting the ball maybe 20-25 times a game in order to not run me down," Robinson said. "It seemed like every time we played a great team I'd really need to prepare for 30 to 40 carries because that's what it called for. I'm not complaining because I loved it and I didn't feel tired at the end of it."
Robinson had seven games with over 200 yards in the 2012 season but has never drawn the state-wide attention of other notable tailbacks in Mississippi such as West Bolivar High School's Kailo Moore and Itawamba Agricultural High School's Ashton Schumpert, both committed to Mississippi State University.
"I'll be honest - if I have to go to community college like at EMCC and play there for a year or two, then I'll do my thing there and be just fine with it," Robinson said. "It really doesn't affect me in a negative way or make me angry. What makes me pay attention is when people say our team wasn't as strong as we proved it was."
Robinson's unique running style of long strides like an olympic sprinter or wide receiver shows up drastically on his highlight tapes as he ran away from defenders verbally committed to Division 1 schools the past two seasons.
"I'll tell you where I think he gets that from is running track for me in the spring to stay in shape," Shorter said. "I've seen track sprinters and he just always has thought that's how I should run all the time. He's beautiful to watch in the open field because it's three or four steps and that's 20 yards already."
Robinson jokes that there may have been a miscommunication between him and Shorter because he didn't even think he'd be on the varsity track team.
"I just wanted to run with those guys in practice to stay in shape and get faster for football season," Robinson said. "Suddenly I'm in the sprinting competitions for the school and then I'm thinking 'wow I'm on the track team -- this is fun too.' so it worked out for football as well."
Shorter says he's had to defend Robinson's record to the major schools -- something he never thought he'd have to do after he sent his recruiting tape out and took him to as many school's summer camp programs as he did this past summer. Robinson still has scholarship offers to Alcorn State University and Jackson State University but even after the coaches named him Class 4A Offensive Player of the Year in Mississippi, none of the Football Championship Subdivision schools have stepped up with offers yet.
"It's crazy how they say he can't fit in their system or he can't be that fast or whatever," Shorter said. "He's a great kid, he scored 50 touchdowns and ran for over 2,500 yards, didn't miss a practice let along a game because of injury and schools are still saying no. What are they looking for?"
If nothing else happens for Robinson beyond his production at Noxubee County High School, Darrell Robinson will be known for one thing during the 2012 season - he was the face of changing the offensive perspective at the Class 4A state champion school in Macon.
"Our fans even were yelling this year 'throw the ball more' and I just knew we had the line and the backs to run it down people's throats," Shorter said.
"We'd always had good receivers at Noxubee and we were always physical on defense.
"This season was the first time we were known as the team that would physically beat you up on offense too. Darrell was a main part in that."