Nathan Robinson can’t help but laugh at times watching his teammates go through Greenbrier’s new offseason conditioning program run by his dad.
What they are going through now, Robinson has been doing it for years.
A former Marine, Sean Robinson instilled discipline and hard work in Nathan at an early age. Any sort of discipline for Nathan wasn’t about being grounded. Instead, punishment meant hard work.
Nathan hated it at the time, but he bought into his dad’s workout program as he got into high school and football became a main priority in his life.
“What he had me do growing up definitely helped me become a better football player and I genuinely enjoy working out now,” Nathan said. “This year is the most I’ve felt conditioned going into the year because of him. I feel significantly better than where I was at last year and that’s exciting.”
Robinson, a 6-foot-5, 270-pound senior and three-star defensive end, is No. 7 in The Tennessean’s Dandy Dozen, a collection of the Nashville area’s top college football prospects for the Class of 2023 as chosen by the newspaper.
Ranked as the No. 44 edge rusher in the country and the No. 16 prospect in the state, according to the 247Sports Composite, the Tennessee football commitment recorded 77 tackles, 21 tackles for loss, 19 sacks, four forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries last season.
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Sean was hired as Greenbrier’s strength and conditioning coach this year and Nathan said that he can already see the differences being made with his dad running things on that end.
“Seeing the relationship between Nathan and Sean, it doesn’t shock me to see how far Nathan has come along,” Greenbrier coach John Elmore said. “You can tell they’re close and they’ll go out there and joke around but will also push each other which is really good to see. I’ve seen a lot of physical changes with the kids in such a short amount of time since Coach Robinson got here and it’s really been something to see.”
Sean is the first to remind Nathan and his teammates that no matter how tough practices might get and how hot it might be, it could always be worse.
During his five years of military service, Sean experienced things that opened his eyes to just how tough things can be.
“You see how bad things can get and there’s there’s no alternative, but to keep going forward,” Sean said. “You see these kids during football and yeah, it’s hot in the summer and offseason workouts are tough, but it’s nothing compared to being a combat environment. It’s just beyond anything you think is reasonable to be able to execute through to overcome or even survive.”
Nathan remembers his dad telling him about a time he was in Ramadi, Iraq in 2005 when a sniper opened fire and hit the machete he was carrying on his back.
The impact from the shot blew the handle off of the machete,. Sean walked away unscathed but with a punctured CamelBak. He still has the sheath that the machete was in with the blade and the bullet still inside of it.
While that experience was one of the scariest in his life, Sean also served details back home, including one where he was one of the pallbearers during President Ronald Reagan’s funeral.
The funeral started in California and the president was transported to Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland before being transported to the Capitol. Once the casket was delivered to the Capitol, Sean was one of the servicemembers who carried the casket and place it under the rotunda on Capitol Hill.
“I’ll brag on my dad a bit when it comes to stuff like that because I think that story is awesome,” Nathan said. “Him being able to do that is such an honor and you can see him in pictures which is really awesome.”
From Auburn fan to Tennessee commit
Nathan enjoys talking about his dad’s stories but Sean would much rather talk about his son and his future as a Power Five player even if he’s going to a school that he despised when he was Nathan’s age.
As his parents met at Auburn, Sean grew up a diehard Tigers fan. He lived in East Tennessee and went to McCallie surrounded by Vols fans who said every year that they were winning a national championship.
It wasn’t until Nathan started to receive interest from Tennessee that the tide in Sean’s mind began to turn.
The Vols were the first Power Five program to offer Nathan and continually showed showed the most interest. He committed to the Vols over Kentucky and Ole Miss on April 11.
“Working with and dealing with Coach (Josh) Huepel and his staff, they’re just head and shoulders above the rest,” Sean said. “That staff up there is amazing and they really got their act together on the recruiting trail. This coaching staff has turned us into into Vols fans and I’m all on board now.”
Reach Joe Spears at firstname.lastname@example.org or 731-343-4923. Follow him on Instagram and Twitter @joe_spears7.