Oct. 19, 2013
Oh, the incredible emotions of collegiate football!
Patton Robinette woke up this morning with no inkling that he would be playing a major role in a Vanderbilt's first home field victory over Georgia in 22 years.
The lanky redshirt-freshman was swept into the fray in the second quarter when starting quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels went down with an injury. A couple of hurried tosses on the sideline to team managers, a quick sprint and an encouraging hug from Coach James Franklin and his warm-up was complete. Time to go to work.
About two hours later, Robinette was suddenly the center of attention - making his debut on the radio network's postgame show and then stepping in front of an imposing bank of television cameras and media representatives in the postgame press conference.
Typical of the entire Commodore team, Patton deflected any leading questions that would spotlight him, preferring to focus on his teammates. Jordan Matthews would say that he had no apprehension when Robinette entered the game because "games are won in practice" and Patton had earned his stripes there.
Earlier, when Franklin faced the press, he cited Robinette's winning history: straight-A student, perfect ACT score, a state champion athlete. "That's why we recruited him," Franklin understated.
And when the last question was answered, Robinette walked across the street, hurriedly brushed past a few well-wishers and gave his mom a big, long hug, then shook hands with his dad. For the onlookers, that was an emotional scene.
There was also emotion in Austyn Carta-Samuels life. The senior took the field this morning with a heavy heart. His cherished grandfather, Dr. Thomas (Tom) Samuels had passed away on Thursday, leaving a void with many but striking the Commodore quarterback profoundly.
Dr. Samuels, himself a Vanderbilt man, might have been Austyn's biggest fan; certainly no one was more proud of No. 6.
Austyn has earned a legion of admirers; he left a starting quarterback spot at Wyoming to transfer here and take his chances. He sat out one year, then played essentially just one game last season before getting the starting nod in his last year.
He was making the best of that chance, too. On the field, he showed a deft passing touch and toughness to mix it up in this brutal conference. He impressed everyone with his leadership skills. In the midst of one of his mature, press conference answers, an onlooker whispered that he was a future coach in the making.
And then, just like that, a couple of aggressive Dawgs hurled him to the turf and Carta-Samuels was down.
Robinette said that Austyn was pretty emotional at halftime but in the second half, Carta-Samuels was still in uniform - crutches and all - while helping his understudy and cheering his heart out.
There is a lot of emotion in football. And not all of it is on the field.