January 1, 2010

Ultimate Warrior: Robinson a true leader

IRVING, Texas - It seems like only yesterday Zac Robinson was out at wide receiver in the Independence Bowl.

He was so talented that coaches just had to get him out there somehow. With Bobby Reid at quarterback, Robinson got out on the field however he could.

But how quickly time changes things. The next season he supplanted Reid, took control of the OSU offence and never looked back.

And now, on the verge of his final game in college, the fifth-year senior is pumped to get out there and try and the Cotton Bowl Classic.

"I'm excited," he said. "It's going to be a lot of fun. I'm going to look at it as just another other game. Not try to get too hyped up or be like Man this is my last one and I've got to do this and stuff like that and just go out and have fun with my teammates and try to execute as well as I can and get a win."

Over the years, Robinson has proved his worth on the playing field. With 10,048 yards of total offense, the Littleton, Colo., product has been a big part of the OSU offense the past few years. He is the school record-holder in that category, as well as passing yards (8,199) and touchdown passes (66). He also holds a single-season school record in completion percentage (65.0 in 2008) and single-game record for completion percentage (85.2).

But it's his toughness that he will be remembered for most. At times when other QBs might want to sit things out, Robinson has always gamed it up and went out acted like a warrior.

"The thing with Zac, you know, Zac can get hit 100 times in a game and you'll still see him run without a flinch," Keith Toston said. "For most quarterbacks, I'm not saying that Zac doesn't slide, but if he's caught in a situation where he can't slide, I've seen a lot of guys flinch like they're scared to get hit. That's one of the things that has helped Zac out, because if you don't flinch you have a chance to come out on the other side. He's pressure-free when he's in the pocket. He can have guys all the way around him and he'll find ways to slip in and out of it."

But, at times, that fearless attitude can be something that has to be contained.

"Zac is real tough," DeMarcus Conner said. "When he had the concussion against Texas Tech, he wanted to come out and play against Colorado. But we had to tell him to chill and that we had this so he could come back for the OU game. Anybody of Zac's caliber that wants to go out there and compete is wonderful. Zac's toughness overall makes everybody else tough."

Coming out of high school, Mike Gundy and Co. knew they had a winner on their hands. But what can you really know about a young kid when he first steps foot on campus.

"He was a just a back up, you know?" Toston said. "Bobby Reid was having a great year my freshman year and broke some records here and there and Zac just never really got a chance to go out and play. When Bobby struggled early my sophomore year, it gave Zac a chance to step up and try to make some plays."

And he made plays. Statistically-speaking, his high point was in 2007, when he passed for 2,824 yards and 23 touchdowns and ran for 847 yards and nine scores. This season the numbers were a bit lower than the previous two seasons, but his tough mindset and leadership ability was very important in a season where other key offensive starters were injured or off the team.

Tomorrow, he leads OSU out onto the field for the final time, against Ole Miss in Cowboys Stadium. Will his run as leader of the Cowboys be tarnished with a loss in the Cotton Bowl?

"You really can't put that much into one game," Robinson said. "The whole body of work and the whole career and things like that - we want to win this football game first and foremost. But we expect to do that and we're excited for the challenge but we're not putting a whole lot into just one game."

And after this game, No. 11 will turn his attention to his next big goal, the NFL. Judging by his tough-as-rawhide approach, there's little reason to doubt he can make it somewhere at the next level, even if he has to catch passes instead of throw them.

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