Robinson Jr. values mentorship from former Alabama NFL vets


The Washington Commanders seem to love the Alabama Crimson Tide pipeline. From Jonathan Allen to Daron Payne to, now, rookie running back Brian Robinson Jr., the Nick Saban-produced prospects have intrigued the Burgundy & Gold for years.

As Robinson prepares for his rookie season, he's taken lessons learned in Tuscaloosa with him. When asked if any Alabama guys have helped him with his transition, the 23-year-old cracked a smile before answering.

“I can give credit to a lot of guys,” Robinson said following Wednesday’s OTA session. “I got a lot of guys that I played with at Alabama that’s in the NFL now. I’ve just had plenty of opportunities to ask those guys questions and pick their brains based on their NFL experience or what they think, what type of transition we have to make from Alabama to the NFL. I feel like they’ve been helping me just kind of get the mindset of what I need to bring from Alabama to the NFL.”

Robinson follows a long line—a dynasty, even—of talented and productive rushers to come out of Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide regime. Derrick Henry, Mark Ingram, and more recently Najee Harris have rushed their way from down south to the pro ranks and done so in terrifying fashion for opposing defenses.

It’s been well documented that Robinson ran behind several huge-name backs during his college days, from Josh Jacobs to Damien Harris and others. He has previously said that he’s spoken with Harris, Pittsburgh’s starting RB, about his transition to the pros.


Now, though, the rookie gave insight into the wider alumni branch from his university that’s been helping him. His list included two players on the Miami Dolphins and a couple of guys who aren’t running backs.

“I talked to Jaylen Waddle a lot. I talked to Najee and Davonta [Smith] and Tua [Tagovailoa],” Robinson said. “I talked to pretty much all the guys that [were] in my class with me. We’re probably closer than all the other guys, but anybody that I’ve been on a team with since I was at Alabama, we still kinda have steady relationships.”

Hopefully, the elder Tide’s wisdom will translate to on-field production for Robinson, who’s primed to take on at least a minor role in a crowded backfield in D.C. Antonio Gibson, J.D. McKissic, Robinson, and Jaret Patterson headline the group, with each player’s usage yet to be determined.

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It’s been discussed that the Commanders might employ a running-back-by-committee approach to the upcoming season, with each player splitting a smaller number of touches for the greater good. The coaching staff, though, has not yet detailed how they plan to distribute carries.

Robinson can provide a bruising, powerful dynamic that the other RBs can’t, but is ready to take on whatever role Washington has planned for him.

“No,” Robinson said when asked if coaches have indicated to him what his usage might be this season. “We show up every day and we just practice along the script. I don’t really know how they plan to use me yet. I’m just focused on doing everything I need to do so that I can be ready for the opportunity when it comes.”