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T-Rob has seen Tigers evolve

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T-Rob has seen Tigers evolve

Sunday, September 03, 2006


Times Sports Staff pmarsh9485@msn.com

Former Auburn player back as student coach

AUBURN - For the man known to all close to him as "T-Rob," the memories came flooding back Saturday night.

Travaris Robinson was back home at Jordan-Hare Stadium, soaking in the atmosphere again as Auburn opened its season against Washington State.

Robinson, who came to Auburn out of Miami as a wide receiver in 1999, was an All-Southeastern Conference safety in 2002. He played two seasons with the Atlanta Falcons. And now he's back home, finishing up work on his degree in communications and helping defensive coordinator Will Muschamp as a student coach.

"This is my family and my home," Robinson said. "I'm excited to be here. I'm excited about our team and about Coach Muschamp and his system. It's an NFL system. It worked on that level. It worked at LSU. It'll work here. We are going to go out and get better every week."

Robinson has a unique perspective on Auburn's program. He was a wide receiver on Tommy Tuberville's first team, moved to cornerback for two seasons and finally to safety. The program's growth, he says, has been a joy to watch.

"When we first got here, Coach Tub had some guys he didn't recruit, some guys who weren't fitting into what he was trying to do," Robinson said. "It was grueling. That first two-a-days we'd practice for three hours in both practices every day. He recruited guys who he knew could make it.

"I'll never forget that first season. We weren't very good, but we worked hard. We had a couple of big wins over Georgia and LSU. Now the program has just blossomed so much."

Robinson signed with the Falcons as a free agent in 2003, went to Tampa and back to Atlanta. A knee injury sidetracked his playing career and he decided it was time to pursue another dream.

"I always knew I was going to coach one day," Robinson said. "I just didn't know exactly when. I was hoping my tenure in the NFL would be a little bit longer. I just go with the flow and put God first. I know God is not going to put me in a situation I can't handle."

Robinson still looks as if he could play. He admits sometimes he has the urge.

"Right now, I'm just playing through these guys," Robinson said.

"I play through (Aairon) Savage and (Eric) Brock, David Irons and (Jonathan) Wilhite and Pat Lee. It's been exciting to watch those guys grow."

Robinson knows well what it is like to be a freshman playing at Jordan-Hare for the first time. It was in his and Tuberville's first game in 1999 that he made a play that saved his coach from a humiliating loss.

Auburn and Division I-AA Appalachian State were tied 15-all in the fourth quarter. The ball was snapped before quarterback Ben Leard was ready, bouncing around at the Auburn 4-yard line. Leard couldn't find it. Robinson, split wide, saw it and outran the Appalachian State defenders and recovered. Auburn eventually won 22-15.

"That might have been the biggest play of my career here," Tuberville said, chuckling.

It was last spring when Robinson realized that his NFL days were probably over. He planned to return to Auburn and get the final 16 hours he needed for his degree. Auburn running backs coach Eddie Gran, who recruited him out of Miami, happened to call one day.

One thing led to another, and Robinson soon was back in the program that nurtured him for four years.

"These Auburn people have been so good to me," Robinson said. "They nurtured me."

Robinson will graduate next May. He wants to find a college coaching job on some level. But Auburn, he says, will always be his home.

"When all is said and done, I want to be coaching at Auburn University," Robinson said. "If I had to draw a big plan, I'd like to get a big house on the golf course, over at Moore's Mill or something, and coach at Auburn."

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