Saturday, September 25, 2010

Cooper linebacker Josh Robinson has a pretty simple philosophy when it comes to playing defense.

“Get to the guy with the ball and try to rip his head off,” he said. “All that mean stuff. I play defense. That’s what I do.”

The senior does a good job getting the guy with the ball, too, and he’s laid out some of the hardest hits you’ll see on the football field this season. One, in particular, stands out. His hit on Austin Westlake quarterback Lewis Guilbeau in the Coogs’ second game of the season, a 35-31 victory over the Chaparrals, was a brutal blast, dropping Guilbeau for a four-yard loss late in the first half.

“It was just the way he got there,” Cooper coach Mike Spradlin said. “He really bursted there, made a huge play on it. It really was one of the biggest hits I’ve seen. I’ve got to give it to the kid (Guilbeau). He got up, and about three or four plays later, he threw a touchdown pass. (The hit) was a great athletic play, too. It wasn’t just the violence of it. It was a great athletic play.”

It’s tackles like that, though, that make Robinson’s night. He loves hitting folks hard.

“Every minute, every second of it,” he said. “It’s great.”

The 5-foot-11, 235-pound Robinson is one of the Coogs most articulate and confident players.

It’s also evident he’s having a lot of fun out there.

“Because I’m the best out there doing what I do,” he said. “I’m not arrogant. But it’s the way you’ve got to think. To be the best, you’ve got to think that way. I’m confident because I’ve prepared. I’ve worked harder than anybody. If that guy says he can beat me, I’m going to man up and challenge him. I’m not going to back down from anybody.”

That confidence is one of the things that endears Robinson to Spradlin.

“He’s extremely confident,” he said. “He’s always been that way. I got to know Josh when he was an eighth-grader over at Madison. Boy, I could tell then he had a chance to be special. A hard worker. Real confident in his ability. I like that about him. He’s a great leader. He’s been a great leader for our football team for three years, honestly. Even as a sophomore, he just played like an older guy. The last two years, he’s been great.”

Robinson started as defensive tackle in youth football but lost weight and made the switch to running back in junior high. He also played running back at Cooper his freshman year, but he was moved to nose guard on defense. He didn’t like playing nose guard. He wanted to be a linebacker, and he got his wish that freshman season.

“It was pretty obvious that was a good fit for him,” Spradlin said.

Robinson, a three-year starter, has bloomed into that smart, passionate football player, who’s every bit the leader on his team.

“He’s certainly not a guy who’s going to get shook,” Spradlin said. “He’s going to stay calm, stay focused on the task, play intelligently. He plays tough, because he’s strong and has a quick burst, as we saw against Westlake.”

Robinson said he’s learned to be much more disciplined — something lacking his freshman year.

“I had all the tools,” he said. “I was big, strong, fast. I just wasn’t right in my mind.”

The Coogs are 4-0 and coming off an impressive offensive and defensive showing against Lubbock High — a game called at halftime because of lightning. Cooper’s defense held the Westerners to 10 yards of total offense, including minus-two yards on the ground, in a 43-0 victory — the team’s first shutout this season.

“I think we’re coming along very good,” Robinson said about the defense. “We’re not perfect, but our effort and intensity hasn’t fallen off. It’s picked up. We haven’t gotten our bellies full. We’re still hungry. We’re playing like we haven’t won a game.”

Ah, that’s Robinson — always the leader, always wanting to get better.

“I just love his passion for leading and his passion for the game,” Spradlin said. “It’s important to him. He’s been one of the finest kids I’ve coached.”

Spradlin expects Robinson to play college ball, perhaps at the Division I level. Robinson, though, isn’t worried about where he lands. He just wants to enjoy this final season at Cooper.

“This is what I love to do,” he said. “I’ve got to cherish every moment of it. This is what I’m going to miss when I’m there doing it like a job in college.”

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