2009 Football: ECU’s Robinson wants to go out in style
By Ronnie Gallagher
Three years ago, Scotty Robinson was on top of the world. He was getting playing time for an up-and-coming East Carolina football team and had even made the first-team Conference USA All-Freshman defensive squad. People back home were hearing his name called on national TV.
Recently, Robinson stood on the Salisbury practice field, where he was once a star as a senior Hornet.
He hopes to recreate that stardom in his senior year at East Carolina.
The last two seasons have not been his best individually due to coaching changes and injuries. Team-wise, it has been great. Three straight bowl games landed Robinson in Birmingham, Memphis and, best of all, Hawaii.
Now, he wants it all.
“This past spring,” said the 6-foot-4, 275-pound monster, “I felt it was some of the best practices I’ve had.”
An ankle problem left him out of the spring game, “but I guess the coaches felt I did enough to solidify my spot,” he said.
Robinson’s spot is defensive end. He is slated to start.
“I’m looking for a big year,” he said.
He was expecting a big year during his sophomore year but Donnie Thompson, who saw unlimited potential in him, was fired over money issues, according to Robinson.
“A new coordinator came in and I kinda fell to the bottom of the depth chart for whatever reason,” he said.
Robinson never got down on himself or the team, mainly because Skip Holtz was turning things around. Robinson played in the papajohns.com Bowl as a redshirt freshman, where the Pirates fell hard to South Florida.
“It wasn’t too pretty,” he said. “It was our first bowl. The guys didn’t know what to expect.”
His sophomore season ended in what Robinson feels is a fantasy. ECU was invited to the Hawaii Bowl to face talented Boise State. The result was a win that put the team ó and tailback Chris Johnson ó on the map.
The trip will stay with Robinson forever.
“It’s something you’re glad to be a part of because not too many people can say they’ve been to Hawaii,” Robinson said. “Never in my life did I think I’d go to Hawaii. It was a lot of fun.
“But it wasn’t all a vacation. Boise State was good. We were excited about the opportunity to make a name for ourselves.”
The Hawaii Bowl win carried over. ECU started 2008 by beating Virginia Tech and West Virginia, vaulting the Pirates into the national polls.
Virginia Tech was beaten in front of a large crowd in Charlotte’s Bank of America Stadium.
“That was very exciting,” Robinson said. “It was a measuring stick. We showed that on any given day we can play with anyone.”
Although he saw limited action, he can say he was a part of a Conference USA championship. Kentucky beat ECU in the Liberty Bowl, which makes Robinson even more focused for this season. He and Holtz came in together and he wants a going-away present ó another bowl win.
“Every year I’ve been here, we’ve had to take it up a notch,” Robinson said. “Every year under Coach Holtz, our win total has increased. We want that to continue.”
Robinson is looking forward to Appalachian State’s visit to Greenville. His high school coach, Joe Pinyan, whom Robinson credits for getting him to this point, is an Appalachian alum who also has a former Hornet in Boone ó Gordon Witte.
“I know it’s going to be tough for him,” Robinson laughed.
Robinson said he owes a lot to Pinyan and that’s why he attended Salisbury’s first practice.
“Every year, I come out here and grab some of these guys and talk about the things I’ve learned,” he said. “It’s a real eye-opener. It seems like just yesterday I was out here.”
Now, Scotty Robinson is working toward tomorrow.
“Health-wise, I’m 100 percent,” he said.
Robinson blames much of his injury-plagued career on being too exuberant early in his career.
“You’re going all out and you don’t really realize what you’re doing,” he said. “Now, I don’t tone it down, but I just concentrate more. That will save you from a lot of injuries.”
Robinson likes the fever pitch surrounding Holtz’ program.
“The Pirate Nation is always behind the team,” he said. “In 2005, it was like, ‘Think we can make a bowl game?’ Now, it’s like, ‘How do you feel about us making a BCS run?’ Expectations have definitely gone up.”
Robinson has high expectations of himself. He anticipates being in the starting lineup Sept. 5 when Appalachian State comes in for a noon kickoff. He expects to make plays at West Virginia and at North Carolina. He wants another win against Virginia Tech when the Hokies visit Greenville.
And he would love to earn a berth in the Dec. 5 Conference USA championship game.
“Now, I’m the rising senior,” he said, “opposite of guys who have had spectacular careers. I’m trying to find my place. It’s looking pretty good.”
Robinson can’t wait for Meet The Pirates Day on Saturday in Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. This defensive end is ready to be a Purple People Eater.
“I’m bubbling, I’m bubbling,” he beamed. “I’m ready to go. I’m excited to get out there and finally do what I know I can do.”