Former Munford standout Jakari Robinson committed to play football with Arkansas State on Thursday afternoon. Robinson, who started 24 games at Cincinnati, will have one year of eligibility remaining.
Robinson didn’t imagine himself going to Arkansas State once he put his name in the transfer portal on March 1, but once he developed a relationship with the new coaching staff, he knew that’s where he wanted to spend his final season.
“Just getting with that coaching staff changed my mind so much,” Robinson said. “He has put a lot of players in the league. In his last three years, he (Arkansas State head coach Butch Jones) was Nick Saban’s right-hand man. He was the coach that talked to scouts. I think a lot of that coaching staff being from Alabama and other successful places played a big part in my decision. At the end of the day, it wasn’t my goal to just go to a Power Five. It was my goal to somewhere I can step in, be the man, and get a lot of exposure from NFL teams. I definitely made a good choice on all of those decisions.”
Robinson, who was on the Rimington Trophy watch list for top collegiate centers the past two seasons, had over 20 offers which included Appalachian State, BYU, Baylor, Rutgers, and Colorado.
Robinson said the conversations that he had with Jones is what sold him on going to Arkansas State.
“As far as GMs (General Managers) and head coaches, it is not one team that Butch Jones is not connected with,” Robinson said. “When I was talking to him, he let me know from the start that whatever you want to go I am going to get you there. Whether it is going to the NFL Draft, signing with the top agents, or whatever it is I am going to get you there. I am going to do my part, and all you have to do is your part. That was the biggest game-changer.”
In three seasons at Cincinnati, Robinson became one of the leaders on offense. Even though Robinson is on a new team, he hopes to have the same impact on the Red Wolves.
“They are looking for someone to come in and set the tone,” Robinson said. “I feel like it’s the perfect chance for me to prove to myself. I have been doing my thing for the longest, but when you come to college you are around grown men, so they are not just going to believe in nobody. If I can come in and get everybody’s respect, it will be a big step for me which is something that I can do.”
Robinson only played in seven games for Cincinnati last season. The 6-foot-2, 308-pound center missed two weeks early in the season after testing positive for COVID-19. Cincinnati won both games with Robinson out of the lineup, so the coaches made the decision to keep him on the sideline.
“I just continued to work on my craft,” Robinson said. “I was able to have my final farewell against Georgia. It was amazing to be able to play in the Peach Bowl, so I could see how I could do against one of the top defensive lines in the country. I did a lot of good things at Cincinnati; I played a lot of good football, and I am getting my degree, but I just thought it was time for me to find a new home. I think finding a new home is going to give me the next edge that I need to take it to the next level.”
Robinson will graduate from Cincinnati on his birthday on April 30 with a degree in Criminal Justice with a minor in Sports Administration.
“It feels amazing, it really doesn’t feel real,” Robinson said. “Growing up, I always said that I was going to play college football and play in the NFL, but honestly, when you are so focused on the NFL you forget that you come out of this with a degree. It is a feeling that I can’t describe, it is amazing.”