Harlem native becomes football player at Ole Miss

Brian Romski
The Oxford Eagle

Austrian Robinson, 19, a defensive linemen from Harlem, New York, moved south to continue his football career after facing a challenging childhood.

“Harlem was a rough place,” said the 6’5, 285 lbs. defensive lineman. “There was a lot of crime and bad influences that I was surrounded by. There were a lot of things that I did not like, and that’s why I wanted to get out. When the opportunity came up for me to attend TP, I immediately took advantage of it.”

Robinson attended The Trinity Pawling School his sophomore year, a prestigious all boys boarding school in upstate New York.

“I went there originally as a basketball recruit, never really playing football in my life,” he said, “but mainly went there to get a better education.”

Immediately after arriving on the TP campus, Robinson was identified as a potential football player.

Todd Hoffman, dean of faculty and junior varsity football coach at Trinity Pawling, praised Robinson.

“He was here to progress as a student athlete in the basketball world, but took advantage of our hope that all boys participate in sports during all seasons,” he said. “The rest is history.”

Hoffman had Robinson on the JV squad for a total of five minutes before varsity coaches directed him to the varsity team.

“I was fitting him for football equipment when the varsity coaches saw him and told me to get him to the varsity field right away,” he said. “They recognized his size, and when he hit the field, they immediately saw his potential.”

Midway through his junior year, he began getting calls from schools, such as Duke, the University of Maryland, the University of Connecticut, Miami and other large East Coast schools.

It was rare to have a football recruit from New York City gaining this much attention.

According to ESPN, Robinson was ranked No. 2 in the state of New York for the 2016 class. He had a total of 18 offers from Division 1 schools and was arguably one of New York state’s most sought after football recruits.

“There was a lot of talking, not just from coaches, but from friends, family, and people from other schools,” Robinson said. “I was under a lot of pressure for a long time, and it was a lot for me and my family to go through.“

But one school caught Robinson’s eye – the University of Mississippi.

“The people here were just incredible,” he said. “I felt comfortable here, and it really felt like home compared to the other schools I visited.

“Once I took my visit, this campus blew me away. I could see what Coach Freeze was building here, and I wanted to be a part of something special.”

Robinson recognized the special nature of the community at Ole Miss, as well as the opportunity of committing to play football under Coach Freeze, but he did not seek the spotlight.

“I really did not enjoy having all that spotlight on me, because that’s not what I am about,” he said. “I wanted to make a decision for myself, and not anyone else.”

Robinson said he’s grateful for everything in his life. He is looking forward to getting on the field and playing the game he loves and pursuing a degree from the University of Mississippi.

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