The following article is a regular feature in SPARTAN Magazine and appears on page 26 and 27 of the January issue. It is a part of the series "A Few Good Minutes", in which SPARTAN Magazine writer Gillian Van Stratt goes 1-on-1 with Spartan athletes in search of the person behind the jersey. This month's installment, which features junior safety Trenton Robinson was unintentionally truncated in the print and online editions of SPARTAN Magazine. For that reason, we bring it to you today free of charge, to those who subscribe to the magazine and those who do not. Enjoy.
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By Gillian Van Stratt
When Trenton Robinson was a senior in high school and being recruited by Michigan State, defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi showed him a newspaper article. Trenton, who ran track for Bay City Central, had lost a race to another Michigan State recruiting target. In the article Duzzi showed him, the recruit boasted that he had beaten Trenton and that he would never lose to him again.
That recruit was Mark Ingram.
Trenton never lost a race to Ingram again. And he plans on keeping that streak active come January 1.
SPARTAN Magazine: How excited are you to have the opportunity to play a program like Alabama?
ROBINSON: I'm real excited. Like you just said, it's Alabama. To be able to play a team like that, defending national champs, I mean, you can't beat it if you ask me.
SPARTAN Magazine: How much have you guys talked about the fact that they are defending national champs?
ROBINSON: It's just there. Everybody talks about it. Everybody can't wait.
SPARTAN Magazine: What do you think of when you think of Alabama football?
ROBINSON: Winning. (Robinson chuckles). Winning. They win. They know how to win. That's what I think about.
SPARTAN Magazine: Describe the difference between Trenton last year and Trenton this year.
ROBINSON: Oh man, as the year goes on you watch film from last year and I watched the film and I asked myself 'How could coach even play me last year?' I mean, I slowed the game down. I actually play slower now. You know, I'm still moving fast but everything is becoming slower for me because I know what's going on, not just out there running around. Like last year, I was just out there running around. I didn't know really know what the offense was doing and things like that and now I actually know what's going on out there. I mean, I've matured as a player in every aspect of my game, film watching mostly and slowing the game down and knowing what's going on.
SPARTAN Magazine: When did you watch film and actually question why coach was even playing you, last year?
ROBINSON: It was actually right after camp. I just watched little clips and one of the coaches, coach Collins, we would always go and watch film and he would just show me cut ups of last year and show me 'you need to change this' and 'you need to fix this' and that helped a lot.
SPARTAN Magazine: Can you think of any times watching film this year where you looked at yourself from last year and thought 'God, if that happened now I would totally read that and I would not make that same mistake now'?
ROBINSON: Yeah, the Notre Dame game last year. I watched a couple passes that I gave up. A big pass to Golden Tate. I gave up a big pass to Golden Tate. And now it's just like, 'Man, I can't believe I did that.'
SPARTAN Magazine: Was it just a matter of not being in the right position or did it take longer to get there because you didn't recognize until the play was happening what was going on?
ROBINSON: Yeah. I didn't recognize what was really going on until it was too late and then I tried to make a play on it and I did a rookie mistake. I didn't hook and swat. I tried to undercut the ball and he caught it and scored a touchdown.
We watched my tackling. That was one of our main focuses that he said I needed to work on. He and Coach Barnett said that when I hit somebody I needed to run my feet. I used to get, when I would tackle last year, a lot of the time I would hit and I would get knocked back. I would always fall back, the runner would always end up on top of me because I would just hit and my feet would go dead.
SPARTAN Magazine: When you think about this year, I know you've said that you've watched a lot of film, but is that something where you can't rush that process, it just took the time to watch more film and play the position longer, play with the same guys? There's no way for that to happen any sooner right, natural progression?
ROBINSON: Experience. It's something that's going to come to you. We weren't going to rush it but if you know what you're doing wrong you have a better chance of fixing your mistakes.
SPARTAN Magazine: OK. Sorry, gotta ask. Let's go back to that Penn State game. You guys ended up winning, but when that happened (when you made the interception in the endzone and decided to run it out and ended up turning the ball over), was it your old running back instincts that kind of took over? Is it all a blur when you think back and just happened so quickly?
ROBINSON: Yeah, but I'll never forget that day probably in my life because even though we won the game, Big Ten Champs, that was a big day, but that is always going to eat at me. I'm sure of it. It's just, that was not one of the smarter things I've done in my life.
SPARTAN Magazine: But it did work out...
SPARTAN Magazine: And it sounds like you learned from it so much that since you guys did win and it worked out that you can in a way, even though you wouldn't want it to happen again, that you were able to kind of take something from it. When it happened, I know some of the players weren't even getting back to the huddle because they were talking to you. Who came to you and was picking you up?
ROBINSON: Rucker and Greg. Greg always, like most players would be furious, his caliber of a player that he is. But he just came over and said 'Trenton', right after it happened, he didn't even looked stressed out or anything. He probably was going crazy in his head, but he just looked me in my face and said 'Trenton, just chill out, don't worry about it. We will get it done. Don't even worry about it. Don't worry about it. We're gonna stop 'em. We're going to get it done and we're going to win this game.' And you know, after the game, I was just like, 'That is a lot of character'. He's special.
SPARTAN Magazine: Talking to him sometimes this year, he said that when he was a freshman and was kind of a quieter guy, he said that he learned that some guys don't respond to getting yelled at and he learned because that was how some guys treated him. Does that work for you?
ROBINSON: Yeah. Players or coaches. I honestly don't think you have to yell at a person to get through to a person. That definitely works for me. When you yell at me it just kind of makes me think 'What are you doing? That's unnecessary.'
SPARTAN Magazine: Did you go back and watch that play again?
ROBINSON: I watched it in my head over and over and over.
SPARTAN Magazine: So not on tape?
ROBINSON: I actually saw it on youtube because somebody put it on there. My friend made it and then put it on my Facebook page. So I was like 'Wow'.
SPARTAN Magazine: A friend? Is he still a friend?
ROBINSON: Yeah, he's still my boy. He did it literally the night after the game and then he calls me and says 'Go on your Facebook page'. I mean, that's what friends do sometimes. But it wasn't to hurt me, it was just funny.
SPARTAN Magazine: Do you think if Marcus would have been in there, he was on the sideline at the time banged up, that he would have sat you down in the endzone?
ROBINSON: Who Hyde? Yeah, Hyde probably would have done that. Hyde told me he would have tackled me or something.
SPARTAN Magazine: You have some experience with Mark Ingram don't you?
ROBINSON: Yeah, because you know I'm from Bay City and he's from Flint. We didn't get to play him my senior year (in football), but I wanted to play him. So I'm amped. All my friends are excited. I mean, we were cool. We ran track together and everything. And I played running back too and I was putting up numbers like that. I would see it in the newspaper that he ran for 360, 340 yards and I would just be sitting there like 'Wow'.
We came on our official visit (to Michigan State) together too. Coach had actually asked me, Coach Barnett had asked me, 'What do you think about Mark Ingram?' And I just told him, 'He's the truth'. Because he in high school his senior year, he was amazing. That was stuff you don't see.
On our official visit we were talking and I was sure after that, because I had committed, I was sure he was coming here. I was 100 percent sure. So when we came back down and we found out he wasn't coming, I was in shock. I couldn't even believe it because I didn't even know he was talking to Alabama. I was sure he was coming here. So I was kind of in shock, but he's got to do his thing and he is doing it.
So it's going to be fun (to play against him). I'm amped. I'm really excited. I can't wait. I'm ready to leave right now (Dec.17). I'm ready to play the game. I'm ready to go.
SPARTAN Magazine: You got your bags packed?
ROBINSON: Nah, I don't need no bags, just get some sweat suits or something.
SPARTAN Magazine: You and Ingram ran track together. Did you run the same events?
ROBINSON: Yeah we were in the 100, 200, 4x1, 4x2.
SPARTAN Magazine: Are you faster than him? Did you beat him?
ROBINSON: Yeah (laughing with pride). He got me before in my junior year. Actually I can remember it because one of the coaches, Coach Narduzzi, came back and showed me an article where (Ingram) had talked about how 'I beat him' and how 'I'll never lose to him again' or something like that. And I didn't lose to him again the rest of the season.
SPARTAN Magazine: When did Duzzi show you that article?
ROBINSON: It was my senior year (in high school). He had said 'Did you see the article and what Mark said?' Because Mark had beaten me early in my senior season. He beat me in the 100 and the 200 that day. He had said something, I don't know if he meant to, because I had seen him at the track and I was like, 'Man, you just threw me under the bus!' And he was like 'No!' (It was the media), that's what he told me.
SPARTAN Magazine: Seems like an interesting recruiting technique for Duzzi to show you that article.