Since 2007, the Maryland Terrapins have looked to Chris Turner to lead the troops into battle on Saturdays. In 2010, the team has a new a captain – one that can make or break the entire season for the team – with speed, accuracy and playmaking ability. The leader: Jamarr Robinson.
After starting the final four games in 2009, Robinson came into camp this summer as the starter and the weight of the season resting on his arms and legs. It’s a stressful situation for any one player, right? But Robinson knows that comes with leading a team in a wide open ACC.
“I learned how much is on me,” Robinson said. “I learned how much is on me. The way I run plays in practice – it kind of sets the tempo for everyone else like the second team, the third team, the defense. If I start out rough, it kind of carries over onto everyone else, so I got to learn that my reps are important and they mean a lot to practice.”
As the team prepares for a Sept. 6 matchup against Navy at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Robinson and his teammates are sharpening their skills. Robinson has already received praise from his head coach, Ralph Friedgen, for his progress in becoming a team leader.
But Robinson knows that as the starting quarterback, he has to set the tone for his teammates. It all starts with their practices, too. If the practices are intense, they can carry that passionate play to game day. After all, we’re talking about practice.
“[Being a leader] comes with the position. I need to be more vocal. If somebody is having a bad practice, I got to get them up and get them going – whatever I got to do to motivate my people to get the best out of them,” Robinson explained.
In addition, Robinson knows that the work he puts in off the field is important. Friedgen said that he and offensive coordinator James Franklin are very pleased with his reading of coverages, and that is definitely the result of a lot of extra studying on Robinson’s part.
“I’ve been watching our defense on tape, our practice, learning their mannerisms, how they get excited or the look in their eyes, their positions – the little things – and just trusting the [offensive] line,” Robinson said.
It also doesn’t hurt to have a second-team All-ACC wide receiver Torrey Smith as a weapon in your offense. Smith set a Maryland single season record for all-purpose yardage last season with 2,192 yards. He and Robinson, along with a running back in Da’Rel Scott that was named to the 2008 first-team All-ACC, make up a dangerous set of “triplets” for the Terps’ offense.
“I know that [Smith and Scott] are going to do what they have to do,” Robinson said. “And when I drop back they’re going to be where they need to be, and I can put it out there and trust that they’re going to be there.”
Individually, Robinson realizes that he is still a bit of an experiment. As a dual-threat quarterback, he must learn when to utilize each of one of his skills at the proper time, as well as when to hold back and avoid making the big turnover. After a “sloppy” and “frustrating” team scrimmage Monday evening in the words of Friedgen, Robinson acknowledged his weaknesses and knows what he must do in order to be successful.
“It was sloppy in my opinion. It was a lot of mental mistakes that I made personally – stuff that I got to fix,” Robinson said about the scrimmage. “There are some plays where I feel like I can make a play, but sometimes the best thing to do is just throw the ball away as opposed to doing all the extra stuff that I do.”
If the Terps are to be contenders in the ACC in 2010, Robinson will lead the way. As the catalyst of the entire team, his leadership and talents will be the key to wins. And if the Terps want to improve after a 2-10 campaign, they must stay motivated. Robinson doesn’t want his teammates to forget that feeling of disappointment.
“I feel like we’re all hungry and more motivated that this 2-10 will never happen again to any of us being that we’ve all been through it once – that’s something we’ll never go through again.”
What Robinson does want, however, is wins. He said he doesn’t care about yardage, touchdowns or his statistics – all he cares about at the end of the day is that the team earns a victory, and he’ll do whatever it takes to ensure that.
“I want the highest accolades possible. Realistically, I want to win the ACC and I want to have a successful season and grow as a team.”