‘Undersized’ Robinson plays big role for CSU

Charleston Southern’s Ben Robinson, a 5-7, 180-pound junior, rushed for 127 yards and two touchdowns last week.

Growing up in the shadows of Florida State University, and playing for one of the top high school teams in Florida, Charleston Southern junior running back Ben Robinson had very little trouble adjusting to college football.

Robinson, a 5-7, 180-pounder, prepped at Lincoln High School in Tallahassee — a program that has won several state titles and produced more than a dozen NFL players.

“Football at Lincoln is very serious,” Robinson said. “Our practices were very rigorous. We practiced three hours a day, every day in full pads. It was physical and competitive every single day. I think that really prepared me for college football.”

Robinson was a starting cornerback his first three years of high school, waiting his turn to be a running back. In his sophomore year, Lincoln won a state title behind running back Javorius Allen, who rushed for 1,489 yards at Southern Cal last season and is a rookie with the Baltimore Ravens this fall.

During Robinson’s junior year, Lincoln’s offense was led by running back D.J. Abnar, who rushed for 1,289 yards last season at Liberty and is a projected NFL prospect this season.

Robinson got his chance on offense as a senior, rushing for 1,475 yards and earning all-state honors. While his size may have scared off the major programs, Charleston Southern head coach Jamey Chadwell got a tip just before signing day in 2013.

“It was about a week before signing day and (former CSU assistant) Scott Browne from Elon told me about a kid from Florida they had in camp — a guy with great speed but a little undersized,” Chadwell said. “We saw some film, felt like he fit into what we would be doing offensively, and we lucked up and got him signed. We knew he came from a great high school program so we knew he would be prepared for college football.”

That signing proved to be pivotal for Chadwell, who was in his first season as head coach. It also proved to be a turning point for Robinson.

Robinson started the season opener against The Citadel his freshman year, alongside junior Christian Reyes, who graduated after last season as CSU’s career rushing leader. Robinson gained 44 yards in his initial game, finishing his freshman season with 320 yards.

Robinson upped his contributions to 505 yards last season and opened this season by rushing for a career-high 127 yards and two touchdowns last week in a 41-14 victory over North Greenville.

Robinson is part of a stable of running backs this season. He, along with juniors Darius Hammond and Mike Holloway, will handle the bulk of the running game duties.

“We all push each other here,” he said. “Competition makes us all better and we push each other to be the best we can be. I just try to be myself, not try to do too much.

“I want to win and I will do whatever my team needs for me to win. That started in high school. We were successful at Lincoln because we were unselfish and willing to do whatever the coaches needed us to do.”

Robinson missed several games for disciplinary reasons in his first year at CSU. Chadwell said Robinson has come a long way since his freshman year.

“He is a real, true leader on this team — a guy that everyone respects,” Chadwell said. “We all make mistakes. The big thing is how you respond to that and the way he responded — with a mature, unselfish attitude — is the reason he is a successful player.

“He learned from it and he has benefitted from it. He certainly has earned everything here and he will be a great success on the field, and off the field once he graduates.”