JMU’s Robinson turns himself into role model for teammates

JMU's Simeyon Robinson (74) goes in for a sack against Maine on Sept. 24. Robinson, a redshirt senior, is looking to lead the Dukes to another strong season. Courtesy photo/JMU Athletics Communications

HARRISONBURG – Simeyon Robinson has come along way at James Madison University.

In his first few years at JMU, Robinson struggled with his responsibilities. Whether it was being late for meetings, not being in shape or struggling in his classes, Robinson was not a role model for other players to look at.

Now all that has changed as Robinson enters his senior season.

“My big thing with Simeyon is where he was a year and a half ago and where he is right now — it’s night and day,” JMU head coach Mike Houston said. “When I first got here, he was borderline eligibility. He was out of shape. He had had some off field stuff. The guy that still wears that same jersey number today has a 2.6 GPA, which is well over half a point better. He is on pace to graduate on time this December. He has just become a real kind of role model off the field for younger players. And his work ethic and just his preparation have completely changed.

“And I think he’s prepared himself to have a great senior season. And I’m really proud of him.”

Robinson, who plays on the defensive line for the Dukes, said he knew what the coaches and players thought of him and he wanted to change.

“I wouldn’t say I messed up all the time, but I was late to things, didn’t make it to meetings on time sometimes,” Robinson said. “I kind of had a rep for that, and I didn’t want that rep any more. Coaches as well helped me with that as well to get me on the right path. To get me on the right track. And I thought to myself I can’t keep being this person that’s late and not doing things right.”

Robinson, who went to school at Colonial Heights High School with JMU teammate Raven Greene, has made plenty of impact for JMU on the field.

He redshirted his first year, in which he was moved to the offensive line. Robinson said then-JMU head coach Everett Withers put him on the offensive line to send him a message that his work ethic needed to change.

After making improvements, Robinson was put on the defensive line for his redshirt freshman year. He played at defensive end and started six games and 26 tackles and 2.5 sacks.

Robinson said one of his favorite memories came in that season.

“I got a sack against Villanova,” Robinson said. “That was my first year playing defensive end. And that was my first sack at defensive end, and that felt really good.”

Robinson now predominantly plays at defensive tackle, but said he doesn’t mind playing anywhere on the defensive line.

Last year Robinson played in 14 games and started in 10. He finished the season with a career-high 34 tackles, including 17 solo.

Robinson said last year was really special as the Dukes won the Football Championship Subdivision national title. He said the whole team really committed to the season.

“It was a great feeling winning the championship last year,” Robinson said. “We really worked hard as a team that whole year and we all had a common goal. And we all wanted to reach that goal. We made a promise to each other that goal (means more than) anything outside of football. We made a promise to ourselves to continue on this journey.”

The 6-foot-1, 264-pound Robinson said he’s really worked harder than ever in the weight room in the offseason.

Houston credited both JMU strength and conditioning coach John Williams and JMU defensive line coach Jeff Hanson with helping Robinson turn things around over the last two years.

“He’s worked so hard in the weight room,” Houston said. “He’s powerful and he plays really, really hard now. And I think that was missing in the past. And he’s much more disciplined than he was.”

Robinson said that he’s excited for what JMU can do this season. He said the team just needs to come together just like it did last year.

For himself, Robinson said he just wants to be a good role model and leader for the team. He said it’s starting to sink in than that this is his senior year.

“It’s hit me just kind of that feeling of I needed to work harder,” Robinson said. “I need to work on myself being mentally tough this year. So that whatever comes in front of me I can handle it full force, because I’m a senior and I can lead my team and I can be a leader. I want to show the younger guys that whatever you’re going through now, whatever may be in the past, that you can always improve. You can always get better.”