Former Northwestern High star Robinson resurrects career in Canada

Jamie Robinson still has aspirations of playing in the NFL.

The 26-year-old defensive back with the Canadian Football League’s Toronto Argonauts completed his initial season with 60 tackles, three interceptions and one forced fumble. After completing his college career at Florida State in 2009, Robinson did not hear from NFL teams.

“I didn’t get a draft call,” he said. “So I got a job working with an insurance company and coaching high school football from 2010 to the beginning of 2013.”

In February he finally got a call.

“A coach with Toronto got in contact with me and asked me to come to workouts and do some combine drills,” Robinson said. “I got invited to to camp and then signed a contract. The door opened for me. The hardest thing was the conditioning and getting back in shape. It was tough, but it was fun.”

Athletic success started for Robinson years earlier at Northwestern High School under coach Jimmy Wallace.

“He did a great job of teaching fundamentals,” Robinson said. “ Coach Wallace’s intensity, passion and emphasis on every aspect of the game was second nature to me when I got to college. It was amazing how much of what we did in high school we did in college as well. Next to my dad he has been the most influential man in my life.”

Robinson’s high school football career (27 interceptions) led him be selected to play in the 2004 Shrine Bowl. By that time Robinson had narrowed his college football options to Florida State, Clemson and Virginia Tech.

“The main thing with (deciding on) Florida State was that I would have always wondered what it would have been like to go there. I thought it (FSU) would prepare me for the next level by going up against the best college players in the country.”

Robinson signed a Seminoles’ scholarship in February 2005.

It was also the opportunity to play for legendary Florida State coach Bobby Bowden.

“It was one of those things to be able to say it was an honor to be coached by someone with so many accolades.” Robinson said. “He wasn’t as hands-on when I was there. He left a lot to his assistants, but he knew everybody’s name. He cared about you on and off the field.”

It was on the field that Robinson starred for four years for the Seminoles after a 2005 redshirt season. Over 48 games Robinson had 154 tackles, five interceptions and three fumble recoveries. In his senior season in 2009 Robinson had 74 tackles and picked off four passes, the highlight being a 52-yard return for a score in a loss to Clemson.

“I had two (interceptions) in that game but we were offsides on the other one,” Robinson said . A few weeks later, in his final game for FSU, the senior had a key interception in a 33-21 Gator Bowl win over West Virginia in early 2010.

It is clear that the 6-foot-2, 195-pound defensive back is delighted to be donning the football gear again, regardless of the league.

“The NFL’s a lot bigger in popularity,” said Robinson. “Football is third or fourth in popularity in Canada. Hockey is the biggest. Football just doesn’t get the support there like it does in the United States.”

Signed as a free agent by Toronto on May 29, Robinson finished the season with 60 tackles and three interceptions. In a 35-19 win over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in July, Robinson was credited with a possible game-changing play as he returned an interception 47 yards to the Winnipeg 30 yard line. Toronto scored a touchdown on the ensuing play. It was Robinson’s first career CFL interception.

The Argonauts finished the season 11-8, losing in the semifinals to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, 36-24. Hamilton lost 101st Grey Cup, 45-23, to the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

Robinson said he will continue offseason workouts before rejoining the Argonauts in late May. But, in the meantime, he will have a keen eye on the January BCS national championship game as Florida State plays Auburn.

“It’s good to see them back in the spotlight,” Robinson said. “I’m very excited. I hope they bring the crystal ball home.”

Along with his hope for a title for FSU, Robinson, who one day plans to coach high school football or be a college football recruiter, there is one additional passionate inner desire.

“I still hope to reach my goal of making it to the NFL.”