College Football: ECU's Robinson remembers his roots
By Bret Strelow
East Carolina senior Scotty Robinson met with Salisbury football coach Joe Pinyan, an Appalachian State alum, following a season-opening win against the Mountaineers.
Salisbury assistant principal Christopher McNeil traveled to Chapel Hill on Saturday, and Robinson had three solo tackles in ECU’s loss to the Tar Heels.
The makeup of the Pirates’ nonconference schedule has given Robinson a chance to play in front of role models who aided his personal and athletic development. Robinson, who is on pace to graduate in December, wants to teach once he’s finished with football.
“I had a lot of teachers influence me in high school,” Robinson said. “Coach McNeil, he really got me into sports and taught me a lot of things. I just wanted to be the same kind of guy, to grab somebody and bring them under my wing and bring them along and show them there’s a way out.”
Robinson didn’t have a strong interest in organized sports before he reached high school. He was an eighth-grader at Knox Middle School when McNeil approached him for a heart-to-heart discussion.
McNeil convinced Robinson to play AAU basketball later that year.
“I was just a knucklehead back then,” Robinson said. “It just took somebody to sit down and put some work into me for me to realize I had some potential.”
Robinson attended Salisbury as a freshman, transferred to Davie County for one year and returned to Salisbury for his final two. He was an all-county and all-conference selection in football and basketball.
ECU recruiting coordinator Donnie Kirkpatrick, a college roommate of Pinyan’s, helped lure Robinson to Greenville.
A defensive end, he started six games as a redshirt freshman in 2006 and contributed primarily as a reserve the next two seasons. He’s started all three of ECU’s games in 2009, and the Pirates are 1-2 entering Saturday’s home game against UCF.
“I’m taking that construction worker mentality, realizing at the end of the season I don’t want to have any regrets,” Robinson said. “I want to know I gave it everything I had.”
Robinson recovered a fumble against West Virginia one week after making a key stop in a 29-24 victory against Appalachian State.
ASU, which trailed 24-0 early the second quarter, regained possession at its 24-yard line with 1:28 remaining. The Mountaineers moved close to midfield, and Robinson sacked Travaris Cadet for an 8-yard loss with 32 seconds left.
Robinson consoled Appalachian sophomore Gordy Witte, a Salisbury graduate, after the game and chatted with Pinyan, who was on hand to cheer for his former players and watch his alma mater.
“I’m sure he was disappointed, but when he saw me, he had a smile on his face,” Robinson said. “I could tell he was really proud of everything I’m doing, but it was kind of a double-edged sword.”
The Pirates, seeking a fourth consecutive bowl appearance, are less than 10 months removed from a victory over Tulsa in the Conference USA championship game.
They can move past the frustration from two straight setbacks by winning their league opener, and Robinson doesn’t want to waste opportunities as his college career comes to a close.
“It seems like just yesterday I was in the red, black and gold,” Robinson said. “I came a long way, and it feels good to be a senior and be one of the leaders on this team. Every week is like my last, and I think about that going into every game that we play.”