Islanders’ Robinson ready for NFL journey

Former St. John’s High School and Newberry College linebacker Edmond Robinson was picked in the seventh round of the NFL Draft by the Minnesota Vikings. (Photo by Eric Russell)

It didn’t take James Waring long to see there was something special about Edmond Robinson.

Waring was set to take over as football coach at St. John’s High School in the fall of 2009, and figured he’d get an early look at his new team by attending spring practice.

“I went out to the field just to watch the guys go through drills,” Waring said. “All of the sudden, my eyes latch on to this kid, the tallest kid on the field and a defensive back. I went home and called some of my buddies and told them, ‘You won’t believe this kid at St. John’s. He has to be a Division I prospect.’”

As it turned out, Robinson ended up playing at Division II Newberry College. But Waring’s instincts were proven correct on Saturday, when the Minnesota Vikings selected Robinson in the seventh round of the NFL draft. Robinson, a 6-3, 245-pound linebacker, will report to the Vikings’ mini-camp on Thursday.

“He’s a great story for the kids who feel like they have to go to a big school,” Waring said. “Division II football doesn’t have all the bells and whistles, but the opportunity is there.”

Because Waring did not take over at St. John’s until Robinson’s senior year, word did not get out on the versatile Robinson until late in the recruiting process. He believed he had an offer from The Citadel, but that fell through about a week before signing day, Waring said.

“He was crushed when he wasn’t able to go to The Citadel,” Waring said. “National signing day was just a week down the road, and we had to do something. We called down to Newberry, and they gave him a chance. As he grew into an outside linebacker, I thought, ‘This kid as a shot.’ ”

Robinson earned All-South Atlantic Conference honors at Newberry, played in the East-West Shrine Game and sparkled at the NFL Scouting Combine. But he had to sweat it out until near the end of the draft on Saturday, when the Vikings took him with pick No. 232.

“I sat there for six hours and watched the entire draft,” Robinson said. “It was a long process, but I was glad when I finally got the call. Now, it’s time to go to work.”

Vikings general manager Rick Spielman said Robinson “has a lot of athletic tools to work with.”

“He has great length, he has great speed, range, and he’s going to be another guy that has a lot of athletic tools to work with, but it’s going to be a little bit of a learning curve,” Spielman said. “But you can’t teach his length, you can’t teach his speed and you can’t teach his athletic ability. So we’ll look at him as a guy that can maybe play multiple positions at the linebacker spot, maybe do some pass-rush off the edge, but we’re very excited from his standpoint.”

Robinson is ready for the next stage of his journey from St. John’s to the NFL.

“From a small high school and a small college to the grand stage of the NFL,” he said. “I just feel blessed to be chosen and to have a chance to go make this ball club. I’m ready for it.”

Citadel running back Jake Stenson was invited to the Jacksonville Jaguars’ mini-camp this weekend. Stenson, a 5-11, 200-pounder from Jacksonville, ran for 595 yards and four touchdowns last season, averaging 8.8 yards per carry, and was invited to play in the Medal of Honor Bowl.

Charleston’s Medal of Honor Bowl had 10 players off its 2015 roster taken in the NFL draft last week, seven more than the college football all-star game had drafted in its first year.

“This a significant number and a tremendous increase from last year,” said bowl chairman Tom McQueeney. “This is a reflection not only to the increased status of our game but also the quality of talent that we have participating.”

Here are the Medal of Honor Bowl players drafted this year:

Angelo Blackson, DT, Auburn, 4th round, 100th pick, Tennessee Titans; C.J. Uzomah, TE, Auburn, 5th round, 157th pick, Cincinnati Bengals; Shaq Riddick, DE, West Virginia, 5th round, 158th pick, Arizona Cardinals; J.J. Nelson, WR, Alabama-Birmingham, 5th round, 159th pick, Arizona Cardinals; Michael Burton, FB, Rutgers, 5th round, 168th pick, Detroit Lions; Tevin Mitchel, CB, Arkansas, 6th round, 182nd pick, Washington Redskins; Ian Silberman, OL, Boston College, 6th round, 190th pick, San Francisco 49ers; Reshard Cliett, LB, South Florida, 6th round, 211th pick, Houston Texans; Kristjan Sokoli, DT, Buffalo, 6th round, 214th pick, Seattle Seahawks; Akeem King, S, San Jose State, 7th round, 249th pick, Atlanta Falcons.