Adversity isn’t something new for senior running back DeMarcus Robinson. He has dealt with adversity since he strapped on cleats for head coach Weston Schartz and Wichita Northwest High School. Since his senior season for Grizzlies, Robinson has proven that the size of the man doesn’t define him, it’s the size of the fight within him that defines him.
“(Robinson) just wanted to win, he didn’t care about personal glory, he wanted his teammates to have fun,” Schartz said. “He would joke when it was time to joke and he would kick somebody’s butt when it was time to kick somebody’s butt; he knew the right buttons to push with his teammates.”
Robinson amassed over 5,000 rushing yards in high school, including 1,720 rushing yards in his senior season. His performance was enough to garner him with a 6A, first team all-state selection. But it wasn’t this that he allowed to define him; whether it was teachers raving about him in the classroom or expanding his social boundaries within school, Robinson became a student that Northwest was proud to have.
“He worked very hard, but I always thought that (Robinson) knew there was more to life then just that football game, because football is important to him but it wasn’t the only thing,” Schartz said. “He valued his friends, his family, but when it was time to work, he worked hard.”
In high school, Robinson’s 5-foot-7-inch stature scared many coaches from taking a chance on the all-state athlete. Luckily for him, there was one coach in particular who wasn’t scared away, because Robinson brought back a memory of a former athlete that garnered a lot of attention in his college days for the Wildcats, and continues to garner attention today for the Philadelphia Eagles.
“I knew that (Robinson) was a Division I player, but so many coaches are hung up on size, I was really worried,” Schartz said. “When Coach Snyder came, he looked at him and said ‘I’ll take him.’ A lot of people passed on him because of his size, and Snyder looked at me and said ‘I had one like that before, his name is Darren Sproles.’ Snyder took a chance.”
Now for the Wildcats, Robinson is getting his chance that he has waited for since he joined the team in 2010. When he came out of high school, the then-freshman found himself at the end of a rather long line. It started with the third leading rusher in Wildcat history in Daniel Thomas in 2010, then he played behind John Hubert, the man who ranks second all-time in Wildcat history in rushing yards, for three years.
Because of the waiting and the talent he had around him all those years, Robinson has enough talent and experience to make his presence known out of the backfield.
“DeMarcus (Robinson) is the most experienced back that we have, and he has been very patient with us up to this time,” head coach Bill Snyder said before the season. “(DeMarcus) understands our offense, he can execute our offense. Fundamentally, he is very sound.”
A part of this experience for Robinson is being able to contribute to the Wildcats’ game plan in the passing game as well. Coming into Manhattan, Robinson wasn’t known as a big dual-threat running back, but rather a hard hitting back that would give up his body to block a defender.
“He always blocked well because he’s tough, but he couldn’t catch a cold in high school,” Schartz said. “K-State has done a great job and he’s done a great job in developing that, because in high school he didn’t have the best hands and he knew that was a weakness.”
His dual-threat ability has become of the biggest strengths that Robinson has. He has become another option in the passing game for senior quarterback Jake Waters, and in his limited opportunities catching the ball this season, Robinson averages 10.7 yards per catch.
“He is versatile, he can do it all,” Waters said. “(DeMarcus) can catch it out of the backfield, run or block. He can just do it all and that is huge for us and huge for my confidence when he’s back there (in the backfield.)”
But, it’s not his dual-threat ability or his hard-hitting attitude that gets raved about by players and coaches alike; it is Robinson’s ability to put the team before himself, to put the success of his team over any and every personal goal of his.
“He’s great, the ultimate team player,” Waters said. “I don’t hear him complain a bit about, ‘Hey I need a carry’ or ‘Get me into the end zone.’ He’ll do whatever it takes; if it takes him blocking a defensive end or a guy blitzing for us to throw, he’ll do it. I don’t ever hear him complaining.”
Paying dues is a term that is thrown around for players who have to work to get into the lineup, and for four years Robinson has had to pay his dues. Whether it was injuries or just the skill of those in front of him that held him back, this season he gets to prove why he belongs on the field.
“Obviously, being up (at K-State) he’s waited his turn,” Schartz said. “He’s never cried, complained, moaned and this year he’s finally gotten his chance.”